Elfyn Evans leads Rally Argentina by a reduced, 11.5s margin after a tough Day 3 in which Thierry Neuville closed in.
The M-Sport Ford Fiesta driver led by 55.7s after Day 2 and stretched that to more than a minute in the first stage of the day, but a series of problems allowed Neuville to whittle down the margin and set up a grandstand finish.
Evans won the first stage before a puncture, an off, a loss of the rear diffuser, and then a spin, over the course of the day’s six stages ate into his lead.
“We’ve not had the best of days with a few issues here and there,” said Evans.
“Some small mistake from myself and a few little niggles with the car have dented our advantage quite a lot, but it’s still an advantage and it’s all to play for tomorrow.
“After all the hard work over the past two days, we didn’t come here to finish second. If Thierry wants this victory, we’re going to make him fight for it!”
Neuville hardly had a trouble-free day either after an early puncture and then gearbox and differential changes, but the Hyundai driver went on to win the final two stages of the day to sit within striking distance.
Ott Tanak won Special Stage 13, the fourth of the day, to move up two places on his Day 2 finish into third, ahead of M-Sport team-mate Sebastien Ogier and Toyota’s Jari-Matti Latvala.
Hayden Paddon broke the anti-roll bar in his Hyundai i20 and was consequently penalised for being late to a checkpoint on his way to sixth.
Juho Hannien (Toyota), Lorenzo Bertelli (M-Sport), Dani Sordo (Hyundai), and WRC2 leader Pontus Tidemand (Skoda) complete the top 10.
Kris Meeke endured a repeat of his Day 2, retiring again due to another rollover in his Citroen C3.
He did, however, win SS11 and SS12 before the incident on SS14.
Day 4 concludes Round 5 of the World Rally Championship with three more stages, including the power stage through El Condor.
Positions: Rally Argentina: Day 3
|1||Elfyn Evans||Ford Fiesta WRC ’17||2:53:45.7|
|2||Thierry Neuville||Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC||+11.5|
|3||Ott Tanak||Ford Fiesta WRC ’17||+26.8|
|4||Sébastien Ogier||Ford Fiesta WRC ’17||+49.9|
|5||Jari-Matti Latvala||Toyota Yaris WRC||+1:24.6|
|6||Hayden Paddon||Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC||+4:26.7|
|7||Juho Hanninen||Toyota Yaris WRC||+9:34.3|
|8||Lorenzo Bertelli||Ford Fiesta WRC ’17||+12:10.0|
|9||Dani Sordo||Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC||+13:26.8|
|10||Pontus Tidemand||Skoda Fabia R5||+13:57.5|
VIDEO: Stages 9 to 12 highlights