WRC Croatia: Evans leads Tanak after Neuville crash
Toyota’s Elfyn Evans will take a 22.6-second lead over M-Sport’s Ott Tanak into Saturday afternoon at Rally Croatia after Hyundai’s Thierry Neuville crashed out of the lead.
Evans started the day 5.7s behind leader Neuville but the Welshman inherited the rally lead when his Hyundai rival went off the road in stage 11, which forced the Neuville to retire from the day’s action.
The sole remaining Hyundai of Esapekka Lappi headed to service in third, 44.8s adrift.
Only 4.7s covered fourth to seventh with M-Sport’s Pierre-Louis Loubet leading the best of the rest.
Toyota’s Sebastien Ogier climbed ahead of team-mate Takamoto Katsuta to fifth overall, while world champion Kalle Rovanpera won three of the four stages to sit poised in seventh.
With the road order reversed, Rovanpera made the most of being first into the stages after difficult Friday that was headlined by losing more than two minutes to a flat tyre.
The Finn recorded his first stage win since Sweden in February by setting the pace in stage 9, as he began to close in on team-mate Ogier, who started the day with a one minute penalty for a safety belt infringement on stage 2.
Ogier’s morning also started on the back foot as the Frenchman had to fix a mysterious issue with his GR Yaris on the road section before stage.
“[There was] a small mistake was done in service this morning and we had to fix it [before SS9], the car would have been undriveable otherwise,” said Ogier, who was 1.4s slower than Rovanpera.
Ott Tänak, Martin Järveoja, M-Sport Ford World Rally Team Ford Puma Rally1
Photo by: McKlein / Motorsport Images
Tanak, much more comfortable in the Ford Puma, produced arguably the most impressive drive considering his road position, to clock the second fastest time 1.2s adrift of Rovanpera.
Despite facing the worst of the conditions, Neuville was able to tame his Hyundai on the roads made slippery from gravel being dragged onto the surface to extend his rally lead by setting the fourth quickest time.
Evans admitted he was too careful in the stage and dropped 4.8s to Neuville, who pushed his lead out to 10.5s.
Neuville was able to eke out his advantage over Evans to another three tenths after stage 10, which was won by Rovanpera, who pipped Ogier by 0.1s.
Tanak continued his charge and also took time out of Evans to close within 16.1s of the Toyota driver in the battle for second.
However, the battle for victory took a decisive twist on the next test, stage 11, the only brand new addition to this year’s route.
Again facing the worse of the road conditions, Neuville misjudged a long right hander, 5.2km into the 10.13km test and crashed out of the rally.
The Hyundai driver clipped a rock with the left rear of his i20 N which sent the car into trees lining the road and caused significant damage to the car. Neuville and co-driver Martijn Wydaeghe were unharmed in the incident.
This accident handed Evans the rally lead from Tanak with Lappi sitting in the final podium position. The stage was won by Rovanpera to complete a hat-trick of fastest stage times to move within 2.6s of Ogier in the fight for sixth.
Ogier spoiled Rovanpera’s chance of a clean sweep of the morning stages after edging the Finn in stage 12, who lost time to wild slide, by 0.7s. Evans clocked the third fastest time to pull 3.5s from Tanak but was also lucky after skimming barrier during his run.
Citroen driver Yohan Rossel sits eighth overall to lead the WRC2 class. Crews will return to the stages this afternoon following a midday service.
WRC Croatia: Full Saturday morning results
|1|| Elfyn Evans
|Toyota GR Yaris Rally1||1:47'56.5|
|2|| Ott Tanak
|Ford Puma Rally1||1:48'19.1||22.6|
|3|| Esapekka Lappi
|Hyundai i20 N Rally1||1:48'41.3||44.8|
|4|| Pierre-Louis Loubet
|Ford Puma Rally1||1:50'03.4||2'06.9|
|5|| Sébastien Ogier
|Toyota GR Yaris Rally1||1:50'04.8||2'08.3|
|6|| Takamoto Katsuta
|Toyota GR Yaris Rally1||1:50'06.0||2'09.5|
|7|| Kalle Rovanperä
|Toyota GR Yaris Rally1||1:50'08.1||2'11.6|
|Opel Corsa Rally4||1:52'25.7||4'29.2|
|9|| Yohan Rossel
|Citroën C3 Rally2||1:52'52.8||4'56.3|
|10|| Nicolas Ciamin
|Volkswagen Polo GTI R5||1:53'22.0||5'25.5|
|11|| Nikolay Gryazin
|Škoda Fabia RS Rally2||1:53'22.4||5'25.9|
|12|| Emil Lindholm
|Škoda Fabia RS Rally2||1:54'18.1||6'21.6|
|13|| Oliver Solberg
|Škoda Fabia RS Rally2||1:54'35.9||6'39.4|
|Škoda Fabia RS Rally2||1:54'53.0||6'56.5|
|15|| Adrien Fourmaux
|Ford Fiesta Rally2||1:55'17.3||7'20.8|
|16|| Gus Greensmith
|Škoda Fabia RS Rally2||1:57'26.6||9'30.1|
|17|| Armin Kremer
|Škoda Fabia RS Rally2||1:59'14.9||11'18.4|
|Ford Fiesta Rally3||2:00'43.1||12'46.6|
|Škoda Fabia RS Rally2||2:01'43.2||13'46.7|
|Škoda Fabia Rally2 evo||2:02'33.3||14'36.8|
|Škoda Fabia RS Rally2||2:02'45.0||14'48.5|
|Hyundai i20 N Rally2||2:03'34.0||15'37.5|
|Hyundai i20 N Rally2||2:04'28.8||16'32.3|
|Ford Fiesta Rally3||2:04'44.4||16'47.9|
|Ford Fiesta Rally3||2:05'18.5||17'22.0|
|Ford Fiesta Rally3||2:05'39.0||17'42.5|
|Toyota Yaris Rally2-Kit||2:06'05.2||18'08.7|
|28|| Thierry Neuville
|Hyundai i20 N Rally1||2:07'32.0||19'35.5|
|Ford Fiesta Rally2||2:07'40.2||19'43.7|
|Ford Fiesta Rally3||2:08'22.3||20'25.8|
|Škoda Fabia Rally2 evo||2:13'30.6||25'34.1|
|Peugeot 208 Rally4||2:13'39.5||25'43.0|
|Škoda Fabia Rally2 evo||2:14'49.4||26'52.9|
|Ford Fiesta Rally4||2:15'13.1||27'16.6|
|Renault Clio Rally4||2:17'23.2||29'26.7|
|Ford Fiesta Rally4||2:18'08.1||30'11.6|
|Citroën C3 Rally2||2:19'49.6||31'53.1|
|Peugeot 208 Rally4||2:20'30.4||32'33.9|
|Renault Clio Rally5||2:24'34.2||36'37.7|
|Ford Fiesta Rally3||2:25'18.1||37'21.6|
|Ford Fiesta Rally2||2:26'34.2||38'37.7|
|Škoda Fabia Rally2 evo||2:28'37.0||40'40.5|
|Ford Fiesta Rally3||2:30'21.9||42'25.4|
|Renault Clio Rally5||2:31'33.0||43'36.5|
|Citroën C3 Rally2||2:33'50.9||45'54.4|
|Hyundai i20 N Rally2||2:35'20.3||47'23.8|
|Renault Clio Rally4||2:38'39.0||50'42.5|
|Peugeot 208 Rally4||2:42'30.5||54'34.0|
|Ford Fiesta Rally3||2:42'45.1||54'48.6|
|50|| Erik Cais
|Škoda Fabia RS Rally2||3:13'22.5||1:25'26.0|
|Ford Fiesta Rally3||3:13'46.7||1:25'50.2|
|Ford Fiesta Rally3||3:23'24.9||1:35'28.4|
|Renault Clio Rally5||3:48'03.3||2:00'06.8|
|View full results|
WRC Croatia: Neuville crashes from the lead on stage 11
Neuville explains crash that ended WRC victory shot in Croatia
Le Mans 24 Hours: Calado puts Ferrari top in final practice session
Le Mans 24 Hours: Calado puts Ferrari top in final practice session Le Mans 24 Hours: Calado puts Ferrari top in final practice session
Ferrari didn’t expect lap time for Le Mans 24 Hours pole
Ferrari didn’t expect lap time for Le Mans 24 Hours pole Ferrari didn’t expect lap time for Le Mans 24 Hours pole
United has to "do something clever" to recover from tough Le Mans qualifying
United has to "do something clever" to recover from tough Le Mans qualifying United has to "do something clever" to recover from tough Le Mans qualifying
Le Mans 24 Hours: Ferrari locks out front row, Cadillac suffers fire
Le Mans 24 Hours: Ferrari locks out front row, Cadillac suffers fire Le Mans 24 Hours: Ferrari locks out front row, Cadillac suffers fire
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.