Loeb, also driving a Hyundai, was fourth and a mere 0.6 seconds behind Tanak. Citroen’s Ogier was in a distant eighth place.
Four asphalt stages, totalling 74.14km, will be held on Sunday near Salou, on the Catalan coast to the south-west of Tarragona.
As things stand, Tanak can secure his first title with a round to spare if he also banks bonus points from the closing power stage.
At present he is 28 points ahead of Ogier and 41 ahead of Neuville, who needs to score 12 more than the Estonian to take the fight down to Australia.
“Tanak has been fast and we were always going to see a spirited reaction from him as he tries to clinch the drivers’ title,” said Hyundai team boss Andrea Adamok.
“We can only focus on our job, and our crews have done everything they can.” (Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Clare Fallon
Source: ERC ( Reuters)