Former Rally Finland winner Sebastien Loeb said nobody would have had the speed to live with Mikko Hirvonen on this week's event if the Finn had not crashed off the road this morning.
Hirvonen was 4.9sec in the lead when he had a massive crash on the Urria stage, but his advantage over Loeb was almost double that after the Frenchman suffered a heavy landing in SS3.
Loeb said: "Mikko was absolutely flying this morning, we couldn't stay with him. I think he would have been 30 seconds ahead by the service if he hadn't gone off and it would have been tough to catch him. He was very quick and this event was looking very good for him. This is the rally sometimes."
Hirvonen said the speed he showed in Rally Finland's early stages was the only positive he could take from the day – particularly following a dismal performance on the previous round in Bulgaria.
"We definitely had the speed to win the rally, it's a real shame, but this thing can happen," said Hirvonen. "At least we had the speed and we were going in the right direction."