Ott Tänak won all six of Saturday’s stages on Rally Italia Sardegna and has a 25.9 seconds advantage over Dani Sordo with four stages remaining.
Tanak began the day as he meant to go on, eventually leapfrogging first Teemu Suninen and then Sordo into the overall lead on stage 12 before continuing to increase his advantage throughout the afternoon.
Suninen is third, 17 seconds behind Sordo in his first appearance with new co-driver Jarmo Lehtinen with fourth being battled for by Elfyn Evans and Andreas Mikkelsen.
The pair swapped positions several times throughout Saturday and by the end of the afternoon loop were split by just 7.9 seconds in the favour of the Welshman.
Kris Meeke had also been in the battle for fourth, but he suffered a stage 15 puncture that he was forced to pull over and change, costing him over two and a half minutes on stage winner Tänak’s time. He is now eighth overall.
His demise has promoted Thierry Neuville, who again struggled on the Italian gravel stages into sixth, with Esapekka Lappi, Meeke, WRC2 PRO leader Kalle Rovanperä and Skoda teammate Jan Kopecký rounding out the top 10 – the gap between the two drivers now 26.1 seconds. Takamoto Katsuta is the leader of WRC2 in a Ford Fiesta R5 and is 11th overall.
Despite Skoda’s dominance in the class in terms of overall positions, Mads Østberg was the man to beat on Saturday in WRC2 PRO as he, like Tanak, took all six stage wins throughout the day.
Just 4.4 seconds separate Dennis Rådström and Jan Solans in the battle for the win in the third round of the 2019 Junior WRC. Tom Kristensson is third in class, while British driver Tom Williams suffered two punctures on Saturday and is eighth in the one-make Ford Fiesta R2 series.
Sunday sees four more stages including the Sassari – Argentiera Power Stage.