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Tuesday, November 28, 2023

Evans scores emotional victory to finish drought

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Evans and co-driver Scott Martin delivered a faultless drive to attain a primary win since Rally Finland in October 2021 by a margin of 27.0 seconds from Tanak on Croatia’s difficult asphalt phases.

Esapekka Lappi secured third, 58.6s adrift, to attain his first podium of the season for Hyundai, who fielded a diminished two automotive line-up following the tragic dying of its third Craig Breen in a pre-event testing crash final week. The South Korean squad honoured Breen by operating a particular livery on each its i20 N automobiles.

A turbo problem initially put Evans on the again foot in Thursday’s shakedown, limiting the Welshman to just one run. Nevertheless, a stable run by means of Friday’s eight phases left him trailing Hyundai’s Thierry Neuville by 5.7s heading into Saturday after scoring his one and solely quickest time in stage 8.

Evans inherited a 19.1s rally lead on Saturday morning when Neuville crashed out in stage 11. The Belgian broken his i20 N’s left rear suspension following contact with a bit of concrete having misjudged a 3rd gear right-hander.

Neuville’s retirement from the day created a head-to-head lead battle between Evans and Tanak, the latter had been gathering momentum after positive tuning the arrange of his Ford Puma. Evans struggled for confidence on roads that grew to become plagued by gravel dragged on from the numerous cuts on Saturday afternoon, which allowed Tanak to pounce.

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Tanak closed to inside 12.5s of Evans earlier than the Ford driver suffered a transmission drawback and a hydraulic problem that restricted using the handbrake, costing him worthwhile seconds in Saturday’s closing two phases.

Geared up with a 25.4s lead, Evans produced a measured drive in Sunday’s closing 4 phases to take an emotional victory.

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

Picture by: Pink Bull Content material Pool

“It feels so insignificant [the win] now that’s the backside line,” stated Evans. “Clearly now we have been working for this for a very long time it’s shocking how little it means in the mean time. We’re again to lacking our good friend [Craig] now, right away whenever you cross the end line that’s all you possibly can take into consideration.”

Lappi ensured all three WRC groups had been represented on the rostrum regardless of the Finn’s struggles to ship constant entrance operating tempo in his i20N.

World champion Kalle Rovanpera completed fourth behind Evans after profitable an entertaining duel together with his eight-time world champion team-mate Sebastien Ogier, who had the benefit of opening the roads on Friday.

The pair’s victory hopes had been dealt a blow on stage 2 after they hit the identical pothole which pressured the duo to vary a wheel within the stage. Ogier misplaced 1m32s within the stage as he surrendered the lead he’d gained after the primary stage. The Frenchman, who ended the rally with seven stage wins, was handed a minute penalty for a security belt infringement within the aftermath of the wheel change. He picked up an extra 10s penalty for checking into stage 9 late after being pressured to repair an issue together with his GR Yaris on a street part.

Rovanpera dropped 2m26s after his wheel change in stage 2 that pushed him exterior of the highest 10. Nevertheless, beginning first on the street on Saturday helped the Finn start his restoration up the leaderboard. Finally Rovanpera chalked up six stage wins and managed to overtake Ogier on Sunday to grab fourth.

Toyota’s nominated solely Rovanpera and Ogier to attain producers factors as an alternative of the permitted three drivers, in transfer of solidarity with Hyundai following Breen’s passing.

Takamoto Katsuta ran as excessive as fifth earlier than settling for sixth forward of M-Sport’s Pierre-Louis Loubet, whereas Yohan Rossel completed eighth total to win the WRC2 class.

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

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

Picture by: Fabien Dufour / Hyundai Motorsport

Neuville rejoined the rally on Sunday to ship an emotional Energy Stage win to assert 5 bonus factors.

“We actually wished that victory – we wished to make Craig proud – however we missed the chance. We gave it every part in right here. This one was for Craig,” stated Neuville.

Evans and Ogier share the lead of the championship by a degree from Rovanpera heading into the fifth spherical of the championship in Portugal subsequent month.

WRC Rally Croatia – Prime 10 outcomes


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