Rally News

Rovanpera preserves lead as Hyundai hits more trouble

Takamoto Katsuta, Aaron Johnston, Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT Toyota GR Yaris Rally1

After building up a sizeable lead through Friday and Saturday, Toyota’s Rovanpera could afford to take a measured approach, completing the trio of stages with a 1m53.5s rally lead over team-mate Takamoto Katsuta, with M-Sport-Ford’s Adrien Fourmaux third [+2m57.4s].

Evans maintained fourth position [+4m51.1s] sitting 0.3s behind Tanak in the Sunday classification, where a maximum of seven points are on offer to the fastest driver.

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Neuville held on to fifth overall, but a collision with a rock damaged his rear suspension, dropping him from the Sunday classification lead to third 12.3s behind Tanak.

Hyundai made its Super Sunday strategy quite clear as Neuville, Tanak and Lappi went on the attack in the day’s first stage in search of clawing back much-needed championship points.

Fired up after a fuel system problem cost him a podium place on Saturday, Neuville threw caution to the wind in perhaps the roughest test of the rally to date.

The Belgian’s maximum-attack strategy was rewarded with a fastest time in the extremely rocky Malewa stage, 8.33km.

“At one point I lost the rear, and I thought I had a puncture, but I didn’t so I pushed on. It was very tough in there. It’s important to take some points here, important to get through clean,” said Neuville.

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Tanak trailed Neuville by 4.7s although he said “it didn’t feel natural to push” in such rough conditions. Lappi was third fastest but his Safari bad luck took another twist, finishing the stage with his right-rear tyre off the rim. Lappi and Tanak took only one spare wheel.

Sitting fourth overall, Evans felt he’d judged the conditions perfectly but was surprised by the Hyundai pace after reaching the finish 10.7s adrift.

“I was thinking it was better, but clearly the guys don’t care about the cars or the tyres,” said Evans.

Evans’ concerns were highlighted by the fact his team-mate Katsuta ended the stage with a front-left puncture.  

“It was a lottery stage, quite stupid to be honest. The rocks are moving all the time and [it is] impossible to know where they are,” said Katsuta, whose gap over third-placed-overall Fourmaux reduced to 56.3s.

Takamoto Katsuta, Aaron Johnston, Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT Toyota GR Yaris Rally1

Photo by: Red Bull Content Pool

Fourmaux and rally leader Rovanpera opted for a cautious approach through the stage, setting the sixth and seventh fastest times behind returning M-Sport driver

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