WRC Croatia: Evans extends lead as handbrake issue hampers Tanak’s charge
Toyota’s Elfyn Evans will take a healthy 25.4-second lead into the final day of Rally Croatia after Ott Tanak suffered an issue with his Ford Puma that stemmed his charge.
Evans inherited a 19.1s lead on Saturday morning after Friday’s pacesetter Thierry Neuville retired for the day after crashing out in stage 11 in the morning loop.
However, Evans faced a stern challenge from Tanak in the afternoon, who reduced the gap to 12.5s before a mechanical issue struck his car in the day's penultimate stage.
Hyundai’s Esapekka Lappi struggled for outright pace throughout, but held onto a comfortable third, 55.4s adrift in the sole remaining i20 N.
Toyota’s Sebastien Ogier managed to haul himself from seventh to fourth courtesy of three stage wins across the day, but is only 2.0s ahead of his world champion team-mate Kalle Rovanpera.
Ogier suffered a 10s penalty for checking into the day’s opening stage late after having to fix a problem on his GR Yaris, due to an error in service, on a road section. This came on top of a minute penalty for a safety belt infringement issued on Friday night.
Rovanpera closed the gap to Ogier after making the most of his advantageous road position to set fastest times in four of the eight stages.
The Finn leapfrogged team-mate Takamoto Katsuta and M-Sport-Ford’s Pierre-Louis Loubet, who completed Rally1 runners.
Crews faced far more slippery road conditions for the second pass of the day’s stages, thanks to gravel brought onto the tarmac from the many cuts littered on the route.
Ogier was among those to be caught out by the gravel as he overshot a hairpin, but incredibly he was able to recover to set the fastest time on stage 13. The Frenchman’s speed was enough for him to climb to fourth overall ahead of Loubet.
The eight-time world champion wasn’t the only driver to hit trouble as Lappi suffered a half spin at a tight left hander, while Rovanpera also had a small spin at a junction.
Lappi dropped 16.6s aș a result of the spin while Rovanpera reached the finish 1.6s slower than pacesetter Ogier to move into sixth overall ahead of team-mate Katsuta.
The major talking point was the fight for the rally lead as Evans' margin over Tanak was reduced to 15.9s.
Tanak managed to avoid trouble in the stage to clock the second fastest time, 0.4s slower than Ogier. Evans, struggling for confidence driving what he declared a “skittish” GR Yaris dropped 7.1s in the stage.
This lead battle intensified in stage 14, a short yet picturesque technical run from Vinski Vrh to Duga Resa.
Tanak produced an on the limit drive to clinch his second stage win of the event to pip the benchmark set by Rovanpera by 0.9s. Tanak was able to claw 3.4s from Evans, reducing the gap to a surprised Welshman to 12.5s.
Ott Tänak, Martin Järveoja, M-Sport Ford World Rally Team Ford Puma Rally1
Photo by: Red Bull Content Pool
"I can believe he's on the limit with that time,” said Evans. “For me it was a clean run to be honest, I'm surprised to lose that much."
There was further movement on the leaderboard as Rovanpera's time moved the Finn ahead of Loubet into fifth overall as he closed to within 3.7s of fourth-placed Ogier.
The penultimate stage saw the lead battle swing back towards Evans as the Toyota driver benefitted from a mechanical issues for Tanak, who was without the use of his handbrake. The result was 4.3s gain for Evans, who extended his lead back out to 16.8s.
“Quite a f****** disaster. Handbrake is not working and things like this so it is tricky when it is shitty like this,” said a frustrated Tanak at stage end.
"I didn't think it would be enough again to be honest,” added Evans. “I felt like I was pushing harder in the previous one - so maybe that's where I'm going wrong!.”
Rovanpera emerged as the stage winner, which heaped pressure on Ogier in the fight for fourth, with 1.3s separating the pair.
Tanak’s mechanical problems continued into the final stage of the day, resulting in the Estonian dropping a further 8.6s to Evans, who wasn’t happy with his own performance to end the day with the fourth fastest time in stage 16.
Ogier took the stage honours to respond to Rovanpera’s push, beating his team-mate by 0.7s as the battle for fourth overall raged.
Yohan Rossel held a 11.5s lead over Nikolay Gryazin in WRC2. The rally concludes on Sunday after four stages, totalling 54.48 kilometres.
WRC Croatia: Full Saturday results
|1|| Elfyn Evans
|Toyota GR Yaris Rally1||2:20'05.7|
|2|| Ott Tanak
|Ford Puma Rally1||2:20'31.1||25.4|
|3|| Esapekka Lappi
|Hyundai i20 N Rally1||2:21'01.1||55.4|
|4|| Sébastien Ogier
|Toyota GR Yaris Rally1||2:21'55.1||1'49.4|
|5|| Kalle Rovanperä
|Toyota GR Yaris Rally1||2:21'57.1||1'51.4|
|6|| Takamoto Katsuta
|Toyota GR Yaris Rally1||2:22'31.6||2'25.9|
|7|| Pierre-Louis Loubet
|Ford Puma Rally1||2:22'37.8||2'32.1|
|8|| Yohan Rossel
|Citroën C3 Rally2||2:26'45.9||6'40.2|
|9|| Nikolay Gryazin
|Škoda Fabia RS Rally2||2:26'57.4||6'51.7|
|10|| Emil Lindholm
|Škoda Fabia RS Rally2||2:28'08.1||8'02.4|
|11|| Oliver Solberg
|Škoda Fabia RS Rally2||2:28'18.7||8'13.0|
|Škoda Fabia RS Rally2||2:28'48.5||8'42.8|
|13|| Adrien Fourmaux
|Ford Fiesta Rally2||2:29'03.0||8'57.3|
|14|| Gus Greensmith
|Škoda Fabia RS Rally2||2:31'23.7||11'18.0|
|15|| Armin Kremer
|Škoda Fabia RS Rally2||2:35'18.2||15'12.5|
|Škoda Fabia Rally2 evo||2:38'10.9||18'05.2|
|Škoda Fabia RS Rally2||2:38'28.6||18'22.9|
|Škoda Fabia RS Rally2||2:39'50.7||19'45.0|
|Hyundai i20 N Rally2||2:40'30.0||20'24.3|
|Hyundai i20 N Rally2||2:40'54.1||20'48.4|
|Ford Fiesta Rally3||2:41'43.2||21'37.5|
|Ford Fiesta Rally3||2:43'17.4||23'11.7|
|23|| Nicolas Ciamin
|Volkswagen Polo GTI R5||2:43'17.5||23'11.8|
|Ford Fiesta Rally3||2:43'47.7||23'42.0|
|Toyota Yaris Rally2-Kit||2:44'48.1||24'42.4|
|Opel Corsa Rally4||2:45'38.5||25'32.8|
|Ford Fiesta Rally2||2:46'19.2||26'13.5|
|Ford Fiesta Rally3||2:47'16.7||27'11.0|
|Peugeot 208 Rally4||2:53'34.8||33'29.1|
|Škoda Fabia Rally2 evo||2:54'37.4||34'31.7|
|Ford Fiesta Rally4||2:55'26.4||35'20.7|
|32|| Thierry Neuville
|Hyundai i20 N Rally1||2:56'22.8||36'17.1|
|Škoda Fabia Rally2 evo||2:57'06.0||37'00.3|
|Ford Fiesta Rally3||2:57'17.4||37'11.7|
|Renault Clio Rally4||2:59'03.3||38'57.6|
|Citroën C3 Rally2||2:59'21.6||39'15.9|
|Ford Fiesta Rally4||3:00'29.0||40'23.3|
|Peugeot 208 Rally4||3:01'06.5||41'00.8|
|Ford Fiesta Rally2||3:01'24.4||41'18.7|
|Renault Clio Rally5||3:08'51.1||48'45.4|
|Hyundai i20 N Rally2||3:10'10.6||50'04.9|
|Škoda Fabia Rally2 evo||3:14'31.9||54'26.2|
|Renault Clio Rally5||3:17'38.2||57'32.5|
|Ford Fiesta Rally3||3:20'30.2||1:00'24.5|
|Peugeot 208 Rally4||3:21'19.1||1:01'13.4|
|Ford Fiesta Rally3||3:22'54.9||1:02'49.2|
|Citroën C3 Rally2||3:23'46.4||1:03'40.7|
|Renault Clio Rally4||3:26'41.6||1:06'35.9|
|Ford Fiesta Rally3||3:35'43.1||1:15'37.4|
|50|| Erik Cais
|Škoda Fabia RS Rally2||3:47'41.7||1:27'36.0|
|Ford Fiesta Rally3||3:54'20.7||1:34'15.0|
|Ford Fiesta Rally3||4:04'08.0||1:44'02.3|
|Renault Clio Rally5||4:35'54.7||2:15'49.0|
|View full results|
Neuville explains crash that ended WRC victory shot in Croatia
Tanak: “Many things” compromised WRC Rally Croatia charge
The origin story of the Le Mans 24 Hours
The origin story of the Le Mans 24 Hours The origin story of the Le Mans 24 Hours
Le Mans 24 Hours: Calado leads Ferrari 1-2 in warm-up
Le Mans 24 Hours: Calado leads Ferrari 1-2 in warm-up Le Mans 24 Hours: Calado leads Ferrari 1-2 in warm-up
Hickman settles on Superbike for Isle of Man TT Senior finale
Hickman settles on Superbike for Isle of Man TT Senior finale Hickman settles on Superbike for Isle of Man TT Senior finale
MotoGP Italian GP: Bagnaia beats Marquez to pole
MotoGP Italian GP: Bagnaia beats Marquez to pole MotoGP Italian GP: Bagnaia beats Marquez to pole
The Neuville splash and grab that ends Hyundai’s WRC win drought
The Neuville splash and grab that ends Hyundai’s WRC win drought The Neuville splash and grab that ends Hyundai’s WRC win drought
How Rovanpera fired the WRC a timely reminder of his class in Portugal
How Rovanpera fired the WRC a timely reminder of his class in Portugal How Rovanpera fired the WRC a timely reminder of his class in Portugal
How Evans ended his WRC drought in sombre Croatia breakthrough
How Evans ended his WRC drought in sombre Croatia breakthrough How Evans ended his WRC drought in sombre Croatia breakthrough
The Mexico maestro keeps cool among the WRC chaos
The Mexico maestro keeps cool among the WRC chaos The Mexico maestro keeps cool among the WRC chaos
How the WRC title fight ignited in Sweden's winter wonderland
How the WRC title fight ignited in Sweden's winter wonderland How the WRC title fight ignited in Sweden's winter wonderland
Why Monte Carlo success could spark another past master’s WRC revival
Why Monte Carlo success could spark another past master’s WRC revival Why Monte Carlo success could spark another past master’s WRC revival
How fired-up Ogier became the WRC's ultimate Monte master
How fired-up Ogier became the WRC's ultimate Monte master How fired-up Ogier became the WRC's ultimate Monte master
How Lancia pulled off its famous Monte Carlo giantkilling
How Lancia pulled off its famous Monte Carlo giantkilling How Lancia pulled off its famous Monte Carlo giantkilling
Subscribe and access Autosport.com with your ad-blocker.
From Formula 1 to MotoGP we report straight from the paddock because we love our sport, just like you. In order to keep delivering our expert journalism, our website uses advertising. Still, we want to give you the opportunity to enjoy an ad-free and tracker-free website and to continue using your adblocker.