Rally News

Ogier protects lead, Evans hangs onto second on Sunday morning

Elfyn Evans, Scott Martin, Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT Toyota GR Yaris Rally1

Overnight leader Ogier adopted a no risk approach to Sunday morning’s three stages to protect his position. As a result, the eight-time world champion’s 35.8s advantage decreased to 22.5s over Evans.

Evans just about managed to hold off a charging Neuville, although the pair were split by 2.7s heading into the final stage.

Kalle Rovanpera remained in a lonely fourth, 1m50.8s adrift, but ahead of Hyundai’s Dani Sordo by 2m54.1s, with Skoda’s Gus Greensmith the top WRC2 runner in sixth overall.

The final day kicked off with a fourth pass through the now=heavily rutted Las Dunas superspecial, which once again provided plenty of action.

M-Sport privateer Jourdan Serderidis clouted a rock while his returning team-mate Pierre Louis Loubet, who retired on Saturday, ran wide and ploughed over a rocky embankment.

Hyundai’s Sordo also ran wide at a right-hander and briefly stalled his i20 N. Luckily, the trio all managed to reach the stage finish relatively unscathed.

The stage was won by Neuville as the Belgian claimed his fifth fastest-time of the event to date, nibbling another 0.2s out of Evans in the fight for second. The gap decreased to 4.1s.

Leader Ogier elected not to take any risks with the ruts to cruise through 3.8s adrift of pacesetter Neuville.

Crews headed to the longest stage of the rally next, a 35.63km run through Otates that featured sections from Saturday’s El Mosquito test, which meant grip levels would vary.

While many drivers elected for a measured approach, Evans and Neuville were on maximum attack as the fight over second continued.

Elfyn Evans, Scott Martin, Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT Toyota GR Yaris Rally1

Photo by: Toyota Racing

It was Evans who won that battle, claiming his first stage win of the rally at a crucial moment. The Welshman managed to edge Neuville across all of the splits, before finishing 1.7s faster than his rival to open up a 5.8s buffer.

“It’s hard work!. It was very slippery and really hard to judge. It looks like we didn’t do so bad,” said Evans.

Ogier described his run as a “zero risk” effort and dropped 9.0s in the process as he avoided being caught out by the slippery sections of the stage.

The Rally1 field navigated the stage successfully, although Tanak reached the finish with a damper problem.

However, a lengthy stoppage for WRC2 driver Adrien Fourmaux, to change an alternator belt, promoted Tanak into the final points paying positions in tenth.

The battle for second…

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