He made his intentions clear right from the off, completing the first stage – the 11.29-miles of 'Kakaristo-Hassi 1' – two-tenths of a second quicker than anyone else before turning the wick up further on the next test.

The longest of the rally at 14.05-miles, Evans seized his opportunity, leapfrogging first- and second-placed Craig Breen and Ott Tanak as he turned a 5.9 second deficit into a wafer thin 0.9 second lead.

With a more favourable road position compared to the first day, the Welshman made the most of the extra available grip on special stage nine as he put another 3.1 seconds between his car and Breen’s.

Now firmly in the groove, Evans made it a clean sweep on the final stage before service meaning he returns to Jyväskylä with a 5.6 second buffer to manage.

Asked if he would change his approach for the afternoon loop, the 2020 WRC runner-up said: “Until there is something we can manage, there is no point in doing anything [differently].”

Overnight leader Breen admitted there was little more he could to stop Evans pulling away, insisting he was extracting every ounce of speed and power from his Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC.

“I have the choke out around my knees and I can’t do anything more than that,” he said, adding: “There is not much left in it. Elfyn just has something else that I don’t have today.”

Tanak – who is 4.1 seconds shy of Breen and 9.7 behind Evans – was singing off the same hymn sheet. “This is our limit,” he said. “I’m fighting – but this is all we can do.”

The pace of the front three has contributed to fourth-placed Esapekka Lappi losing touch with them, although he can't afford to ease off as Thierry Neuville has said reeling in the Finn remains his chief goal for the remainder of the weekend.

Holding station in sixth, meanwhile, is Sebastien Ogier. The Frenchman worked closely with co-driver Julien Ingrassia and his engineers last night to try and identify how they could extract some extra pace from the Yaris, and with Neuville not entirely out of sight, fifth-place is still an achievable target.

Kalle Rovanpera bowed out of his home event on this morning’s final stage. 3.6Km in, the 21-year-old got off line through a sweeping left-hander, with this sending his Yaris into a tank slapper.

He ended up hitting a pile of gravel head on, with aerial footage from the stage suggesting the car's radiator is too badly damaged to continue.

Takamoto Katusta has also been sidelined, his participation ended on this morning’s second stage when, with the finish in sight, the Toyota junior ran wide into a left-hander and hit the bank on the right. The subsequent impact sent his car into a pirouette and off the road.

In WRC2, 5.8 seconds separates current leader Teemu Suninen (Ford Fiesta Rally2) and Emil Lindholm (Skoda Fabia Rally2 Evo).