The young Finn carries an 8.4 second lead over Toyota Gazoo Racing team-mate Elfyn Evans as crews prepare for the Sunday leg of the winter event. Despite some ragged moments today, Rovanpera feels there are plenty of positives to take from his performance

“Yes, we have to be happy,” he said. “Overall, it was quite a nice day. Only those few stages [on the first loop] where we lost some time it was not so positive because you always want to be on the pace – or at least close to it.

“In the second pass I don’t think I was pushing enough. I wasn’t aggressive enough – I was trying to be fast of course and pushing – but in these tricky conditions you need to use the snow banks a bit and so it’s difficult to be clean and tidy.

“Of course, the gap to Elfyn is really small – one small mistake and it is gone – so we need to push hard,” he added. “I think the plan is quite clear: in the morning we have to try and start really well, push hard and see where we go.”

Hyundai’s Thierry Neuville is 13.4 seconds shy of Evans and another 8.3 seconds off the pace being set by Rovanpera at the front. The Belgian’s pursuit of them wasn’t helped when he misjudged his braking and missed his turn-in towards the end of this morning’s final stage.

Given the size of the gap, and the turn of speed being displayed by the two Toyota drivers, Neuville admits third would be a more than satisfactory result, especially as Esapekka Lappi is breathing down his neck in fourth.

“We had a complicated morning; we were trying our best but the other three were going really quick. It was hard to resist them,” he said.

“We also went wide under braking in the final morning stage, and I had to spin the car round which lost us a couple of seconds.

“I thought we might have a chance in the dark stages this evening to catch back some time, and we were able to gain back a position [from Lappi].

“Our main issue this weekend has been under braking, and we still have some work to do on the chassis to gain more confidence in this area," he added. "Let’s see what’s possible tomorrow – if we can finish on the podium, I’ll be satisfied.”