Elfyn Evans has surged into the lead of his home FIA World Rally Championship event, winning two of the morning loop’s trio of stages to establish a 6.7 second lead over M-Sport team-mate Ott Tänak.
The Welshman moved straight into the lead in the opening stage of the day, going 4.2 seconds quicker than overnight leader Sébastien Ogier, and extended his lead further with a storming drive through the second half of the Hafren stage.
Tänak moved past Ogier for second in Hafren with the second quickest time after Evans, and M-Sport’s podium lock-out was finally broken when Ogier’s middling time through the final stage of the loop allowed Kris Meeke to move into the final podium place.
Jari-Matti Latvala was one of many drivers to complain of excessive understeer, but coped better than most to hold a solid fifth place. The handling issues for many were best illustrated by Hayden Paddon down in ninth, who was using his handbrake through fifth and sixth gear corners to help turn in.
The Hyundai drivers across the board were left complaining about the handling of their cars. Andreas Mikkelsen was the fastest i20 driver in sixth, while right behind, Thierry Neuville went off and lost nearly ten seconds in the morning’s opening test.
Neuville had been left seething after a mechanical gremlin caused him to stall at the start of last night’s Tir Prince superspecial – incurring a ten second penalty in the process – and indicated the issues remained unsolved going into the first full day of stages, causing concern for whether he would be able to see out the day.
Dani Sordo was wedged into a Hyundai quartet in seventh, and a struggling Juho Hänninen completed the top ten. Craig Breen had been running in the points places early on, but a slow puncture through Hafren dropped him over a minute and down to thirteenth place.
Further problems beset Mads Østberg, who struggled to navigate yesterday’s superspecial. A intermittent gearbox problem through Myherin left him unable to shift directly between gears, dropping him 20 seconds and consigning him to twelfth, though only one second behind the massively struggling Esapekka Lappi.
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