The 2-time championship runner-up produced a measured drive throughout the morning’s three levels to push his benefit over M-Sport Ford’s Ott Tanak out to twenty-eight.1s forward of the ultimate stage.
Hyundai’s Esapekka Lappi maintained third place, 1m02.7s adrift, whereas his team-mate Thierry Neuville returned to motion after crashing out of the lead on Saturday morning.
World champion Kalle Rovanpera leapfrogged Toyota team-mate Sebastien Ogier into fourth, though 6.3s separated the pair. Takamoto Katsuta and M-Sport’s Pierre-Louis Loubet accomplished the Rally1 runners.
Toyota dominated the early morning begin in Zagreb recording a 1-2-3-4 on stage 17 which featured roads not included in final yr’s rally that Rovanpera had beforehand examined.
Regardless of being annoyed along with his effort after electing to vary his driving model, the Finn emerged quickest by 3.7s over Ogier, which was sufficient to wrestle fourth total away from his team-mate.
The struggle for the victory additionally continued to swing in Evans’ favour after he clocked the third-fastest time, 5.1s quicker than rival Tanak, and due to this fact prolonged his rally result in 30.5s.
“I heard the time of Kalle and I wasn’t positive if it might be sufficient to be trustworthy, however all good,” stated Evans.
After struggling a collection of points along with his Ford Puma on Saturday night, Tanak didn’t report a continuation of those at stage finish however was resigned to specializing in ending the rally.
“I feel if we are able to get to the tip that might already be a Positive. Let’s attempt to end this,” stated Tanak, who was 2.7s slower than Neuville.
Ott Tänak, Martin Järveoja, M-Sport Ford World Rally Group Ford Puma Rally1
Photograph by: McKlein / Motorsport Images
Whereas Tanak logged a clear run, his team-mate Loubet suffered a problem along with his Puma and was decreased to finishing the stage in highway mode.
Tanak did nibble on the hole to Evans in stage 18, the primary move of the check which is able to host the rally ending Energy Stage. Evans opted for a measured strategy and dropped 1.3s to Tanak, bringing the lead underneath half a minute.
The stage was gained by Neuville because the Hyundai driver pipped Rovanpera by 0.9s, the latter admitted he may have been braver in his run.
“We tried to benefit from the run by way of and ensure the pacenotes for the Energy Stage,” stated Neuville. “We’re going to attempt exhausting however I am undecided we’re going to have the ability to take plenty of factors.”
Ogier may solely handle a time 5.4s shy of Neuville because the battle for fourth gave the impression to be heading in Rovanpera’s favour.
Loubet’s Puma seemed to be again at full pace however the Frenchman clipped a nook slicing marker in the direction of the tip of the stage which bent his steering.
The ultimate stage of the morning belonged to Rovanpera regardless of a problem with the startline clock which seemed to be lagging for a number of rivals. The Finn wasn’t glad along with his run however he was nonetheless the benchmark, 0.1s quicker than Ogier, who endured a wild slide in his run.
“This was not a very good stage for me, I used to be not doing properly,” stated Rovanpera. “Even the startline was a little bit of a large number – the clock was not working usually so the launch and the whole lot was a bit anxious.”
Tanak was third quickest and among the many group caught out by the startline clock. He was 1.1s quicker than Evans, who continued his calculated strategy.
Citroen driver Yohan Rossel held a 13.4s lead over Nikolay Gryazin in WRC2.
The rally will conclude after this afternoon’s Energy Stage.