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Sunday, December 3, 2023

Evans in management as Ogier nibbles at deficit

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The Toyota driver may afford to take a measured strategy given his sizeable benefit, however ended the morning loop, held in dry circumstances, successful two of the 4 phases, to steer by 1m35.5s. Nearest rival Ogier was in a position to claw 14.4s again on Evans throughout the morning.

Toyota’s lockout of the highest three positions continued with two-time world champion Kalle Rovanpera in third, 2m10.7s adrift.

Hyundai’s Esapekka Lappi managed to climb from seventh to fourth (+3m51.4s), leaping forward of WRC2 runners Andreas Mikkelsen (+3m54.2s), Gregoire Munster (+3m57.6s) and Nikolay Gryazin (+4m32.8s).

M-Sport’s Ott Tanak (+4m34.3s), Toyota’s Takamoto Katsuta (+4m46.7s) and former System 1 driver Heikki Kovalainen (+8m37.4s) rounded out the highest 10.

Hyundai’s Thierry Neuville was in a position to rejoin the rally after crashing out of second in stage six on Friday, though team-mate Dani Sordo and M-Sport’s Adrien Fourmaux have been unable to restart after their stage two crashes. Fourmaux’s Ford Puma solely returned to the service park at 10pm on Friday evening, however harm to the roll cage prevented a restore on website.

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The morning started in weird circumstances when officers crimson flagged stage 9 (Nukata Forest, 20.32km) after crews encountered a security automobile on the stage.

Neuville was the primary to come back throughout the stranded zero automobile which was pulled over to at least one facet of the street halfway by way of the take a look at.

Photograph by: Tomasz Kaliński

Thierry Neuville, Martijn Wydaeghe, Hyundai World Rally Workforce Hyundai i20 N Rally1

Neuville handed the automobile however quickly switched into street mode for the rest of the stage. Toyota’s Takamoto Katsuta additionally navigated across the Rally Japan official automobile earlier than organisers threw the crimson flags.

M-Sport’s Ott Tanak and Hyundai’s Esapekka Lappi had already begun the stage when the crimson flags have been proven. It’s unclear why the zero automobile was stopped throughout the stage.

The stage finally restarted with Neuville, Katsuta, Tanak and Lappi awarded notional occasions.

Ogier claimed stage 9 by 3.1s from rally chief Evans as soon as the motion resumed. Rovanpera was third quickest forward of WRC2 runners Munster and Mikkelsen.

Katsuta continued his spectacular restoration from Friday’s stage two crash by claiming his fourth stage win of the rally in stage 10, which was delayed following the crimson flag within the earlier take a look at.

The Japanese navigated the predominately dry but slippery street floor to publish a time 1.1s quicker than Neuville as he continued his pursuit of the highest six within the general standings.

“For positive, the goal is to push as a lot as I can and to try to catch Ott and Esapekka,” mentioned Katsuta. “I don’t know if it’s attainable or not however not less than I’ve to strive.”

Ott Tänak, Martin Järveoja, M-Sport Ford World Rally Team Ford Puma Rally1

Photograph by: M-Sport

Ott Tänak, Martin Järveoja, M-Sport Ford World Rally Workforce Ford Puma Rally1

Tanak was third quickest now driving a Ford Puma working with out {the electrical} points that hampered him by way of Saturday. Though, Katsuta’s stage win diminished the margin to the Estonian sitting in eighth general to eight.6s.

Ogier was fourth quickest taking 13.3s out of rally chief Evans, who may afford to undertake a measured strategy.

Evans admitted he’d been too cautious in stage 10 and responded by claiming the 2 runs by way of the two.84km Okazaki Metropolis Tremendous Particular, in entrance of a bumper crowd. The Welshman pipped Tanak on each runs.

I’m pleased with my tremendous particular [times] and that’s not one thing I can say fairly often,” mentioned Evans.

It was on this stage the place Lappi rose up the leaderboard to fourth, overtaking Mikkelsen and Munster.

The crews will sort out an extra 4 phases to finish Saturday’s motion.

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