FIA World Rally Championship

Neuville and Evans shares the Rally Japan lead after Friday morning loop

2 Mins read
Credit: Hyundai Motorsport GmbH

After Thierry Neuville and Elfyn Evans were posting similar times on the Shakedown yesterday the duo is once again sharing identical times on the top after the shortened Friday morning loop of Rally Japan.

After a 12-year hiatus, the rally has returned to the FIA World Rally Championship for this season but the rally has seen some changes since it was run last time with asphalt roads only being used now. The rally has already claimed some victims and it has been proved to be the most technical rally of the year.

Dani Sordo came out worst of them all as his Hyundai i20 N Rally1 car was set ablaze on the opening stage of the day, he and co-driver Cándido Carrera escaped unharmed but the car was completely burned down. Due to the fire, the stage got red-flagged and the following third stage got canceled due to the delays of the accident.

Credit: Jaanus Ree / Red Bull Content Pool

Neuville was second to Kalle Rovanperä at Isegami’s Tunnel 1 but came out better on Shitara Town R 1. The Belgian looked to settle the lead but then the storming Welshman Evans outpaced the entire field by 4.3 seconds which lead to the duo sharing the rally lead while Rovanperä dropped down to third with just seven-tenths back.

Ott Tänak who suffered a transmission failure is trailing the frontrunners with 9.7 seconds and further six seconds back in fifth is Takamoto Katsuta who has problems with understeer on his Toyota GR Yaris Rally1.

Kajetan Kajetanowicz was also forced to retire from the rally on the same stage as Sordo, the WRC2 title contender went off the road and slammed his Skoda Fabia Rally2 evo heavily into a wall. With the Pole out early on the WRC2 title, the title decider is way more open for Emil Lindholm who is currently leading the premier support class and sits sixth overall.

Gus Greensmith dropped over a minute back on stage four as Britain suffered a broken driveshaft, and his teammate Craig Breen was forced to retire on the same stage after hitting a roadside barrier. Due to that accident, the afternoon run on the stage will be canceled due to the barrier damage. Rounding up the top 10 after the morning loop are the WRC2 drivers of Sami Pajari, Teemu Suninen, and Grégoire Munster.

Results after SS4 (top 10)

Pos.NumerDriver / Co-driverNat.TeamCarClassTime
1.#11Thierry Neuville / Martijn WydaegheBelgiumHyundai Shell Mobis WRTHyundai i20 N Rally1Rally134:21.6
2.#33Elfyn Evans / Scott MartinUKToyota Gazoo Racing WRTToyota GR Yaris Rally1Rally1+ 0.0
3.#69Kalle Rovanperä / Jonne HalttunenFinlandToyota Gazoo Racing WRTToyota GR Yaris Rally1Rally1+ 0.7
4.#8Ott Tänak / Martin JärveojaEstoniaHyundai Shell Mobis WRTHyundai i20 N Rally1Rally1+ 9.1
5.#18Takamoto Katsuta / Aaron JohnstonJapan / IrelandToyota Gazoo Racing NG WRTToyota GR Yaris Rally1Rally1+ 15.1
6.#21Emil Lindholm / Reena HämäläinenFinlandToksport WRTSkoda Fabia Rally2 evoWRC2+ 1:10.3
7.#44Gus Greensmith / Jonas AnderssonUK / SwedenM-Sport Ford WRTFord Puma Rally1Rally1+ 1:16.2
8.#23Sami Pajari / Enni MälkönenFinlandToksport WRTSkoda Fabia Rally2 evoWRC2+ 1:16.4
9.#22Teemu Suninen / Mikko MarkkulaFinlandHyundai Motorsport NHyundai i20 N Rally2WRC2+ 1:21.9
10.#24Grégoire Munster / Louis LoukaLuxembourg / BelgiumBMAHyundai i20 N Rally2WRC2+ 1:41.9

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