Juho Hanninen has moved into a clear lead going into the final loop of Rally Azores stages as erstwhile leader Bruno Magalhaes hit trouble.
Magalhaes (Peugeot) had led Hanninen (Skoda) by 2.2 seconds at the start of the day, and with the Finn quicker by that margin on SS13, that brought them level in the lead.
Stage 14 then had to be abandoned after Andreas Mikkelsen encountered three cows in the stage, hitting one and damaging his Ford - though not enough to end his rally.
"I think we were very, very lucky," said Mikkelsen. "OK, the car looks bad, but driving-wise it's not too different."
The stage cancellation was a stroke of luck for Kris Meeke and Jan Kopecky, as both had to stop and change punctures before Mikkelsen's incident neutralized the stage.
Magalhaes therefore started stage 15 still sharing the lead, only for a gearbox oil leak to cost him 18sec on the stage as he struggled to see through an oil-splattered windscreen. He then had to keep stopping to try and keep the car alive on the following road section. The crew managed to get through the following superspecial and hope to effect repairs in service. Magalhaes did not fall any lower than second, but is now 19.9sec behind Hanninen and only 2.4 ahead of Kopecky in the second Skoda.
Meeke (Peugeot UK) finally had a trouble-free run and was able to move past Mikkelsen for fourth.