Toyota’s Elfyn Evans has taken the fourth World Rally Championship victory of his career after winning Rally de Portugal this weekend. The Briton was a cut above the rest this Sunday defeating Dani Sordo with a comfortable 28.3-second advantage. The Spaniard, for his part, was the sole survivor of the South Korean shipwreck. Hyundai’s full-time drivers Thierry Neuville and Ott Tänak were out of the victory race following two separate incidents in the previous days.
With this result, Evans has now considerably boosted his title push jumping from third to second in the standings. The Welshman is currently two points behind the leader Ogier (77 against 79). Bellow them are Neuville and Tänak with 22 and 34 points respectively behind the seven-time world champion.
Saturday: Tänak´s KO
Saturday started in the same way as the previous day ended, with the ongoing duel between Tänak and Evans, 13.9 seconds apart in favour of the former. Both rivals continued their great battle throughout the four opening stages of Saturday.
At the SS13 of the Rally de Portugal, however, came a dramatic power shift. The world champion destroyed the rear suspension of his Hyundai, bidding goodbye to his chances of success. Toyota’s British star then deservedly inherited the head of the race. Encouraged by his newfound luck, he won the next special (No. 14) and went to bed the leader.
After Evans finished a sensational Sordo. The Spaniard was able to keep behind the scenes during the fight between Tänak and Evans conserving his victory options intact. On Sunday he took the start at just 10.7 seconds behind the Welshman and with the outcome very much in the air.
Friday: Neuville retires
Hyundai could not have had a better start to Rally de Portugal, with its three drivers occupying all three leading positions during the six opening stages. The supremacy of the South Korean team seemed impossible to rival. On the seventh stage, however, things took a turn for the worst for Hyundai. On the penultimate special of the seventh stage, and as he was pursuing leader Sordo, Neuville damaged the rear suspension of his i20 WRC and had to retire as a result.
Tänak, on the other hand, recovered the lead of the standings, a place he had occupied during the first section. Just six seconds behind the driver from Kärla finished a surprising Elfyn Evans (Toyota). The Briton had displayed a discreet but remarkable regularity, always prowling the first four or five positions while he waited for his break. Dani Sordo gave up nine seconds to complete the top three.
Images of Rally de Portugal: WRC.COM.