The Finn gave best to Mads Østberg through the morning’s three stages as the Norwegian started well in his bid to preserve a 100 per cent winning record in the WRC’s major support category.
Østberg built a lead of almost 11sec in a Citroën C3 after the opening loop of three stages, but Rovanperä overturned that to move to the front in the afternoon’s opener. He fended off Østberg to close a captivating day with a 2.4sec advantage in his Skoda Fabia.
Gus Greensmith was third after a troubled day in a Ford Fiesta. His car’s engine cut out throughout the morning and a power steering problem cost more time this afternoon, leaving the Briton nearly 1min 45sec adrift. Bolivian youngster Marco Bulacia completed the field in fourth.
Chile’s Alberto Heller delighted the big home crowds by easing clear to hold a comfortable lead in WRC 2 in his Ford Fiesta.
Heller grabbed the advantage from early leader Takamoto Katsuta in the second of the day’s six speed tests. A strong afternoon drive, in which he won two of the three special stages, enabled Heller to pull away and end with a 24.5sec advantage.
Katsuta was under no pressure behind and the Japanese youngster brought his Fiesta to the Concepción overnight halt 50.0sec clear of championship leader Benito Guerra, the Mexican at the wheel of a Fabia.
Argentine Martin Scuncio was fourth in a Hyundai i20, despite incurring a 40sec penalty. He was more than half a minute clear of Samuel Israel, with Cristobal Vidaurre completing the top six. The latter two drivers were blanketed by 0.7sec.
While there was delight for Alberto Heller, brother Pedro was less fortunate. He rolled his Fiesta in the opening stage and a string of fellow Chileans followed him into retirement.
Emilo Fernandez crashed his Fabia while Benjamin Israel, Jorge Martinez, Felipe Rossi, German Lyon and Tomas Etcheverry were all forced out.