It is not only in WRC1 that there is high tension this weekend. The WRC2 pack is having a great fight, as decisive WRC points are at stake. At the midday service, however, two drivers are leading the WRC2 standings who have nothing to do with the title. The leader Emil Lindholm in the Hyundai is driving with a view to the team classification and plays no role in the fight for the drivers' title. Adrien Fourmaux, his fiercest rival, made a strong showing on the morning stages and took 14 seconds off his rivals on SS10 alone. But the British title holder is not entered for the classification and so his notional move up to second in the category after a puncture at the start of Friday is causing excitement among the fans, but is not interfering in the championship battle. The two main contenders for the drivers' title still in the running - Andreas Mikkelsen and Gus Greensmith - are stuck in their TokSport Škodas. Greensmith is struggling for more confidence after losing a minute to a puncture on Friday, Mikkelsen lost ten minutes to a spin-out and then more time to suspension damage. The Norwegian leader remains in contention but lost more than 40 seconds on the final stage of the morning loop due to a spin. Meanwhile, a number of local drivers from the three host nations are in the thick of the action - here are collected news and voices from the midday service.
#20 Andreas Mikkelsen (NOR) / Torstein Eriksen (NOR), Skoda Fabia RS
„We're not really attacking anymore - we're in "waiting mode". I spun in one stage. The conditions are terrible. We are waiting for the power stage. The tracks are not so much fun at the moment. There are a lot of people at the track, which is nice to see.“
#22 Gus Greensmith (GBR) / Jonas Andersson (SWE), Skoda Fabia RS
"It didn't go so well. We managed to improve by one position, but it won't be enough to win the championship. Mikkelsen is not scoring points, but I am not getting enough points either. I'm just struggling so much with the car that I can't find any confidence at all. I just have to keep going."
#23 Sami Pajari (FIN) / Enni Mälkönen (FIN), Skoda Fabia RS
"Difficult morning. The track was still wet and muddy. The second lap will be drier for sure, but the muddy parts will still be there. It remains a challenge. It's nice to have so many people on site."
#24 Adrien Fourmaux (FRA) / Alexandre Coria (FRA), Ford Fiesta Mk II
"Today is just going better because the conditions are better and more consistent. The corners are very dirty but the rest is very driveable. Our pace is very good. We still believe that we can win in the Rally2 class. In the afternoon we expect similar track conditions."
#25 Nikolay Gryazin (*) / Konstantin Aleksandrov (*), Skoda Fabia RS
"The morning went well. It's much more difficult than yesterday, to be honest. It's much more slippery. We spun once on the second special stage because it was just slippery. But otherwise everything is ok. Let's see what the conditions are like in the afternoon. It's a bit of a gamble because we don't get any info about the condition of the tracks beforehand. The atmosphere is very nice here."
#26 Kajetan Kajetanowicz (POL) / Maciej Szczepaniak (POL), Skoda Fabia RS
"It was a good morning. I tried to find a good rhythm in these muddy conditions. At the same time I tried to find a good set-up and played with all kinds of settings. Sometimes it was better, sometimes worse. But I am happy with my fifth place. I would have expected that on my first asphalt rally."
#27 Emil Lindholm (FIN) / Reeta Hämäläinen (FIN), Hyundai i20 N
"We thought yesterday was the most challenging day and today is a bit easier. But today is also very challenging. I like that. It was a good wake-up call this morning. Let's see how the afternoon will be. It should be drier. That would be the first time this week. We have to think about it, but we still want to make changes to the car. I'm happy to see a lot of spectators and of course especially the Finnish fans."
#28 Miko Marczyk (POL) / Daniel Dymurski (POL), Skoda Fabia RS
"The first lap today went well. On the first special stage it was still damp and cool, there were a few clean corners which were then not so slippery. The second stage was then very long with a lot of dirt and changing road surfaces. The last stage before the lunch break was characterized by gravel in the corners. - We'll be driving in the dark tonight, which will be exciting. The question is whether the straights might already be dry. But the corners of this rally are mainly gravel. So we have to choose between slicks or rain tires."
#30 Georg Linnamäe (EST) / James Morgan (GBR), Hyundai i20 N
"It was a bit muddy. If I'm honest, it wasn't that great. We seem to lack the feeling for the car. But we'll see if we can do better in the afternoon loop."
#31 Erik Cais (CZE) / Daniel Trunkát (CZE), Skoda Fabia RS
"The morning was long and not easy. I expected a bit more mud on the second stage, but less on the third. We lost second place overall and are now in third. There will still be a lot of slippery patches this afternoon, but maybe we can go with slicks."
#36 Nicolas Ciamin (FRA) / Yannick Roche (FRA), Skoda Fabia RS
"This was a good morning. We are now second in WRC2 and third Rally2 car. The tracks were again very slippery and dirty. There is still a big question mark behind the tire choice for this afternoon. We still have to think about that."
#39 Simon Wagner (AUT) / Gerald Winter (AUT), Skoda Fabia RS
"Nice to drive in front of a home crowd. Peilstein in particular was sensational. I don't know how many thousands of fans were there, but it looked enormous. We increased the speed a bit on this stage. After yesterday's puncture we were going slower. It doesn't matter if we finish seventh or eighth. The third stage was extremely demanding and very dirty."
#44 Štěpán Vojtěch (CZE) / Michal Ernst (CZE), Skoda Fabia
"The first stage was not so muddy and it went well for us. On the second stage towards the end we thought we had a puncture. But it was just some vibrations. We lost a few seconds because of that, but it wasn't so bad. On the last stage it was so slippery that we lightly touched a concrete block and I had to retire."
#45 Albert von Thurn und Taxis (GER) / Jara Hain (GER), Skoda Fabia RS
"Car is running again, but we were still unlucky. On the second stage we suffered a puncture right at the start in an inconspicuous cut. Apparently we are not the only ones. Someone must have dug up a stone. That was just bad luck. I had to change the tire in the field. That ruined our result for the day - that's a bit frustrating. We're so far behind now that we're not setting ourselves any concrete goals."
#46 Martin Roßgatterer (AUT) / Jürgen Heigl (AUT), Skoda Fabia Evo
"Of all things, I had a flat tire on the home stage. The spectators cheered us on - it was a huge joy. But we still have a long rally ahead of us and we want to get faster. Although the sun is coming out, I don't think it will be any better this afternoon. I'm afraid the dirty spots will remain dirty.”
#48 Armin Kremer (GER) / Ella Kremer (GER), Skoda Fabia RS
"It doesn't look bad for us. We were able to defend our lead in the WRC Masters Cup. The stages are demanding and we didn't risk too much - but we are having a lot of fun. The Fabia is running smoothly. In the afternoon, the tracks will certainly be a bit drier, but I think we can continue to drive in front."
#49 Johannes Keferböck (AUT) / Ilka Mimor (AUT), Skoda Fabia RS
"Despite the sun, the road here is almost as dirty as at the Jännerrallye in Austria. There are a lot of cuts and the driving is fun, but very exhausting in parts. We have been able to increase our pace extremely, but Armin Kremer is still too fast for us. We want to keep up the pace and continue exactly like this."
#56 Fabio Schwarz (GER) / Bernhard Ettel (AUT), Ford Fiesta Rally3
The fan belt has broken. Vehicle is being made fit again and co-driver Ettel hopes to be able to start again in the afternoon.
#61 Timo Schulz (GER) / Michael Wenzel (GER), Opel Corsa Rally4
"The morning was difficult because the tracks were extremely slippery. We are trying to get through without making any major mistakes and that has worked out great so far. We continue to be sovereign in front in our class. Today at noon it should be even more slippery because the cuts are being driven further and further out."
#71 Wolfgang Irlacher (GER) / Elke Irlacher (GER), Peugeot 208 Rally4
"The most positive thing so far is the acceptance from the spectators and the huge crowd response. The car is running well and we are in third place in class. I'm really happy with that considering my age. The tracks will get even drier this afternoon, but the cuts make it extremely difficult."
#75 Timo Weigert (GER) / Jasmin Weigert (GER), Peugeot 208 Rally4
"It's a great atmosphere on the stages outside, but the conditions are really tricky. This morning we rolled over once on the first stage in one of the first corners, but thank God nothing much happened because it was very soft in the ditch. Apart from the windshield, not much is broken on the car. The cutting of the WRCs makes it very demanding, so you have your hands full to stay on the track. It won't get any easier in the afternoon - so it remains challenging."