The duo were blanketed by less than three seconds after yesterday’s opening leg but a brake problem in today’s opening gravel road speed test left Østberg playing catch-up for the rest of the leg.
He dropped more than 30sec when the fluid leaked out of the rear brakes of his Citroën C3. Despite winning three of the day’s six special stages, Østberg trimmed Rovanperä’s lead by only a handful of seconds as the Finn ended 33.9sec ahead in his Skoda Fabia.
“This afternoon we tried to match Mads’ pace. He was pushing really hard, but I lost time on the downhill sections into corners because the car was sliding too much. I don’t know if I should do something with the set-up for tomorrow,” said Rovanperä.
Gus Greensmith was more than three minutes off the lead after power steering problems returned to plague his Ford Fiesta. Marco Bulacia completed the field in fourth, his Fabia almost 90sec further adrift.
Takamoto Katsuta topped the WRC 2 standings after gradually reeling in overnight leader Alberto Heller.
The Japanese youngster, driving a Fiesta, won four of the six stages, eating into Heller’s 24.5sec lead before eventually moving ahead in the final stage and returning to the overnight halt in Concepción with a 12.8sec advantage.
Championship leader Benito Guerra delivered a strong afternoon drive to overhaul Argentine Martin Scuncio for third. The Mexican was almost 2min 30sec adrift of the lead battle and 3.7sec ahead of Scuncio.
Alejandro Cancio and Cristobal Vidaurre, both driving Fabias, completed the top six.