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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.

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

Photo by: Red Bull Content Pool

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

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

Cla Driver/Codriver Car Total Time Gap
1 United Kingdom Elfyn Evans
United Kingdom Scott Martin
Toyota GR Yaris Rally1 1:47'56.5  
2 Estonia Ott Tanak
Estonia Martin Jarveoja
Ford Puma Rally1 1:48'19.1 22.6
3 Finland Esapekka Lappi
Finland Janne Ferm
Hyundai i20 N Rally1 1:48'41.3 44.8
4 France Pierre-Louis Loubet
Belgium Nicolas Gilsoul
Ford Puma Rally1 1:50'03.4 2'06.9
5 France Sébastien Ogier
France Vincent Landais
Toyota GR Yaris Rally1 1:50'04.8 2'08.3
6 Japan Takamoto Katsuta
Ireland Aaron Johnston
Toyota GR Yaris Rally1 1:50'06.0 2'09.5
7 Finland Kalle Rovanperä
Finland Jonne Halttunen
Toyota GR Yaris Rally1 1:50'08.1 2'11.6
8 Jan Medved
Izidor Šavelj
Opel Corsa Rally4 1:52'25.7 4'29.2
9 France Yohan Rossel
Arnaud Dunand
Citroën C3 Rally2 1:52'52.8 4'56.3
10 France Nicolas Ciamin
Yannick Roche
Volkswagen Polo GTI R5 1:53'22.0 5'25.5
11 Russian Federation Nikolay Gryazin
Konstantin Aleksandrov
Škoda Fabia RS Rally2 1:53'22.4 5'25.9
12 Finland Emil Lindholm
Reeta Hämäläinen
Škoda Fabia RS Rally2 1:54'18.1 6'21.6
13 Sweden Oliver Solberg
United Kingdom Elliott Edmondson
Škoda Fabia RS Rally2 1:54'35.9 6'39.4
14 Sami Pajari
Enni Mälkönen
Škoda Fabia RS Rally2 1:54'53.0 6'56.5
15 France Adrien Fourmaux
France Alexandre Coria
Ford Fiesta Rally2 1:55'17.3 7'20.8
16 United Kingdom Gus Greensmith
Sweden Jonas Andersson
Škoda Fabia RS Rally2 1:57'26.6 9'30.1
17 Germany Armin Kremer
Ella Kremer
Škoda Fabia RS Rally2 1:59'14.9 11'18.4
18 Laurent Pellier
Marine Pelamourgues
Ford Fiesta Rally3 2:00'43.1 12'46.6
19 Mauro Miele
Luca Beltrame
Škoda Fabia RS Rally2 2:01'43.2 13'46.7
20 Norbert Herczig
Ramón Ferencz
Škoda Fabia Rally2 evo 2:02'33.3 14'36.8
21 Johannes Keferbock
Ilka Minor
Škoda Fabia RS Rally2 2:02'45.0 14'48.5
22 Rok Turk
Blanka Kacin
Hyundai i20 N Rally2 2:03'34.0 15'37.5
23 Patrick O'Brien
Stephen O'Brien
Hyundai i20 N Rally2 2:04'28.8 16'32.3
24 Diego Jr.
Spain Rogelio Penate
Ford Fiesta Rally3 2:04'44.4 16'47.9
25 Tom Rensonnet
Loïc Dumont
Ford Fiesta Rally3 2:05'18.5 17'22.0
26 Eamonn Kelly
Conor Mohan
Ford Fiesta Rally3 2:05'39.0 17'42.5
27 Victor Cartier
Marine Maye
Toyota Yaris Rally2-Kit 2:06'05.2 18'08.7
28 Belgium Thierry Neuville
Belgium Martijn Wydaeghe
Hyundai i20 N Rally1 2:07'32.0 19'35.5
29 Vlastimil Majerčák
Jakub Slovák
Ford Fiesta Rally2 2:07'40.2 19'43.7
30 Fabio Schwarz
Tim Rauber
Ford Fiesta Rally3 2:08'22.3 20'25.8
31 Zoltán László
Gábor Zsíros
Škoda Fabia Rally2 evo 2:13'30.6 25'34.1
32 Marco Oldani
Pietro D'Agostino
Peugeot 208 Rally4 2:13'39.5 25'43.0
33 Aleš Zrinski
Rok Vidmar
Škoda Fabia Rally2 evo 2:14'49.4 26'52.9
34 Romet Jürgenson
Siim Oja
Ford Fiesta Rally4 2:15'13.1 27'16.6
35 Tomas Hrvatin
Djani Simčić
Renault Clio Rally4 2:17'23.2 29'26.7
36 Željko Magličić
Ivan Poljak
Ford Fiesta Rally4 2:18'08.1 30'11.6
37 Eamonn Boland
Michael Joseph
Citroën C3 Rally2 2:19'49.6 31'53.1
38 Jan Pokos
Viljem Ošlaj
Peugeot 208 Rally4 2:20'30.4 32'33.9
39 Igor Mandić
Albert Ivančić
Renault Clio Rally5 2:24'34.2 36'37.7
40 Hamza Anwar
Martin Brady
Ford Fiesta Rally3 2:25'18.1 37'21.6
41 Grégoire Munster
Louis Louka
Ford Fiesta Rally2 2:26'34.2 38'37.7
42 Henk Vossen
Radboud van
Škoda Fabia Rally2 evo 2:28'37.0 40'40.5
43 William Creighton
Liam Regan
Ford Fiesta Rally3 2:30'21.9 42'25.4
44 Vjekoslav Čičko
Eugen Kokolić
Renault Clio Rally5 2:31'33.0 43'36.5
45 Alejandro Cachón
Alejandro López
Citroën C3 Rally2 2:33'50.9 45'54.4
46 Georg Linnamäe
James Morgan
Hyundai i20 N Rally2 2:35'20.3 47'23.8
47 Marko Lončarić
Gabrijel Krnjić
Renault Clio Rally4 2:38'39.0 50'42.5
48 Matteo Fontana
Alessandro Arnaboldi
Peugeot 208 Rally4 2:42'30.5 54'34.0
49 Roberto Jnr.
Mauro Barreiro
Ford Fiesta Rally3 2:42'45.1 54'48.6
50 Czech Republic Erik Cais
Petr Těšínský
Škoda Fabia RS Rally2 3:13'22.5 1:25'26.0
51 Martin Ravenščak
Dora Ravenščak
Ford Fiesta Rally3 3:13'46.7 1:25'50.2
52 Filip Kohn
Tomáš Střeska
Ford Fiesta Rally3 3:23'24.9 1:35'28.4
53 Slaven Šekuljica
Damir Petrović
Renault Clio Rally5 3:48'03.3 2:00'06.8

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