The Norwegian won five of the seven speed tests to end the penultimate leg with a massive 21min 07.4sec advantage in his Citroën C3 over Gus Greensmith.
His almost five-minute lead became a gulf when second-placed Marco Bulacia rolled heavily in this morning’s opening speed test.
His badly-damaged Skoda Fabia came to rest blocking the road (below) and the test was halted for the following competitors. Bulacia and co-driver Fabian Cretu were unhurt but will not restart tomorrow.
Greensmith won the final two tests in his Ford Fiesta but a relaxed Østberg was focused on driving to the finish to secure maximum points.
“The weather was better today and the grip was more predictable. The challenge was lower than in yesterday’s mud and we didn’t push to the same level because of our lead,” said Østberg, whose only concern was a broken intercom this afternoon.
Pedro Heller will carry a WRC 2 lead of almost 10 minutes into Sunday’s final leg after a much quieter day for the support category drivers.
The Chilean, driving a Ford Fiesta, restarted with almost six minutes in hand over Paolo Nobre and steered clear of trouble in the fast pampas stages of the Punilla Valley to extend that to 9min 34.4sec.
Nobre conceded second to Benito Guerra, but the Mexican dropped back again with a puncture in this afternoon’s opening test after struggling with a pop-off valve problem. Guerra attacked again and the Fabia pair were separated by only 12.6sec tonight.
Alberto Heller was fourth in a Fiesta after a morning puncture, with Takamoto Katsuta fifth in a similar car after limping through much of the morning with broken power steering.