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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.

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

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

Red Bull Content Pool

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

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.

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"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

Cla Driver/Codriver Car Total Time Gap
1 United Kingdom Elfyn Evans
United Kingdom Scott Martin
Toyota GR Yaris Rally1 2:20'05.7  
2 Estonia Ott Tanak
Estonia Martin Jarveoja
Ford Puma Rally1 2:20'31.1 25.4
3 Finland Esapekka Lappi
Finland Janne Ferm
Hyundai i20 N Rally1 2:21'01.1 55.4
4 France Sébastien Ogier
France Vincent Landais
Toyota GR Yaris Rally1 2:21'55.1 1'49.4
5 Finland Kalle Rovanperä
Finland Jonne Halttunen
Toyota GR Yaris Rally1 2:21'57.1 1'51.4
6 Japan Takamoto Katsuta
Ireland Aaron Johnston
Toyota GR Yaris Rally1 2:22'31.6 2'25.9
7 France Pierre-Louis Loubet
Belgium Nicolas Gilsoul
Ford Puma Rally1 2:22'37.8 2'32.1
8 France Yohan Rossel
Arnaud Dunand
Citroën C3 Rally2 2:26'45.9 6'40.2
9 Russian Federation Nikolay Gryazin
Konstantin Aleksandrov
Škoda Fabia RS Rally2 2:26'57.4 6'51.7
10 Finland Emil Lindholm
Reeta Hämäläinen
Škoda Fabia RS Rally2 2:28'08.1 8'02.4
11 Sweden Oliver Solberg
United Kingdom Elliott Edmondson
Škoda Fabia RS Rally2 2:28'18.7 8'13.0
12 Sami Pajari
Enni Mälkönen
Škoda Fabia RS Rally2 2:28'48.5 8'42.8
13 France Adrien Fourmaux
France Alexandre Coria
Ford Fiesta Rally2 2:29'03.0 8'57.3
14 United Kingdom Gus Greensmith
Sweden Jonas Andersson
Škoda Fabia RS Rally2 2:31'23.7 11'18.0
15 Germany Armin Kremer
Ella Kremer
Škoda Fabia RS Rally2 2:35'18.2 15'12.5
16 Norbert Herczig
Ramón Ferencz
Škoda Fabia Rally2 evo 2:38'10.9 18'05.2
17 Mauro Miele
Luca Beltrame
Škoda Fabia RS Rally2 2:38'28.6 18'22.9
18 Johannes Keferbock
Ilka Minor
Škoda Fabia RS Rally2 2:39'50.7 19'45.0
19 Rok Turk
Blanka Kacin
Hyundai i20 N Rally2 2:40'30.0 20'24.3
20 Patrick O'Brien
Stephen O'Brien
Hyundai i20 N Rally2 2:40'54.1 20'48.4
21 Laurent Pellier
Marine Pelamourgues
Ford Fiesta Rally3 2:41'43.2 21'37.5
22 Tom Rensonnet
Loïc Dumont
Ford Fiesta Rally3 2:43'17.4 23'11.7
23 France Nicolas Ciamin
Yannick Roche
Volkswagen Polo GTI R5 2:43'17.5 23'11.8
24 Eamonn Kelly
Conor Mohan
Ford Fiesta Rally3 2:43'47.7 23'42.0
25 Victor Cartier
Marine Maye
Toyota Yaris Rally2-Kit 2:44'48.1 24'42.4
26 Jan Medved
Izidor Šavelj
Opel Corsa Rally4 2:45'38.5 25'32.8
27 Vlastimil Majerčák
Jakub Slovák
Ford Fiesta Rally2 2:46'19.2 26'13.5
28 Fabio Schwarz
Tim Rauber
Ford Fiesta Rally3 2:47'16.7 27'11.0
29 Marco Oldani
Pietro D'Agostino
Peugeot 208 Rally4 2:53'34.8 33'29.1
30 Zoltán László
Gábor Zsíros
Škoda Fabia Rally2 evo 2:54'37.4 34'31.7
31 Romet Jürgenson
Siim Oja
Ford Fiesta Rally4 2:55'26.4 35'20.7
32 Belgium Thierry Neuville
Belgium Martijn Wydaeghe
Hyundai i20 N Rally1 2:56'22.8 36'17.1
33 Aleš Zrinski
Rok Vidmar
Škoda Fabia Rally2 evo 2:57'06.0 37'00.3
34 Diego Jr.
Spain Rogelio Penate
Ford Fiesta Rally3 2:57'17.4 37'11.7
35 Tomas Hrvatin
Djani Simčić
Renault Clio Rally4 2:59'03.3 38'57.6
36 Eamonn Boland
Michael Joseph
Citroën C3 Rally2 2:59'21.6 39'15.9
37 Željko Magličić
Ivan Poljak
Ford Fiesta Rally4 3:00'29.0 40'23.3
38 Jan Pokos
Viljem Ošlaj
Peugeot 208 Rally4 3:01'06.5 41'00.8
39 Grégoire Munster
Louis Louka
Ford Fiesta Rally2 3:01'24.4 41'18.7
40 Igor Mandić
Albert Ivančić
Renault Clio Rally5 3:08'51.1 48'45.4
41 Georg Linnamäe
James Morgan
Hyundai i20 N Rally2 3:10'10.6 50'04.9
42 Henk Vossen
Radboud van
Škoda Fabia Rally2 evo 3:14'31.9 54'26.2
43 Vjekoslav Čičko
Eugen Kokolić
Renault Clio Rally5 3:17'38.2 57'32.5
44 Roberto Jnr.
Mauro Barreiro
Ford Fiesta Rally3 3:20'30.2 1:00'24.5
45 Matteo Fontana
Alessandro Arnaboldi
Peugeot 208 Rally4 3:21'19.1 1:01'13.4
46 William Creighton
Liam Regan
Ford Fiesta Rally3 3:22'54.9 1:02'49.2
47 Alejandro Cachón
Alejandro López
Citroën C3 Rally2 3:23'46.4 1:03'40.7
48 Marko Lončarić
Gabrijel Krnjić
Renault Clio Rally4 3:26'41.6 1:06'35.9
49 Hamza Anwar
Martin Brady
Ford Fiesta Rally3 3:35'43.1 1:15'37.4
50 Czech Republic Erik Cais
Petr Těšínský
Škoda Fabia RS Rally2 3:47'41.7 1:27'36.0
51 Martin Ravenščak
Dora Ravenščak
Ford Fiesta Rally3 3:54'20.7 1:34'15.0
52 Filip Kohn
Tomáš Střeska
Ford Fiesta Rally3 4:04'08.0 1:44'02.3
53 Slaven Šekuljica
Damir Petrović
Renault Clio Rally5 4:35'54.7 2:15'49.0

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