But while Evans could savour a strong effort on his ADAC Rallye Deutschland debut, his fellow Brits Alastair Fisher and John MacCrone were both left to reflect on what might have been after they hit trouble.
MacCrone was leading after winning the opening two stages when he slid on a patch of oil and bent the rear axle on his Ford Fiesta R2, used as standard in the series, on stage four. His misfortune handed top spot to Fisher, who was 18s in front when a rear-right puncture on stage five dropped him to fifth place, 1m31.1s adrift of Evans heading to the overnight halt in Trier.
“It’s been a very difficult day and it’s more a smile of relief than a sense of achievement,” said Evans, who survived a spin on stage two.
Suarez, on course for his best finish in the WRC Academy, reported brake issues with Reeves losing ground with a spin on the opening test.
Timo van der Marel is fourth after a trouble-free day although the same cannot be said for Fredrik Ahlin who stopped on stage two when his bonnet flew open and cracked his car’s windscreen. Despite taping it back into place, it flew up again before the stage finish and caused the Swede, who is nursing an injured right hand, the legacy of his crash on the previous round in Finland, further delay.
Pontus Tidemand and guest entrant Martin Koci from Slovenia both retired in the opening stages, while Jose Suarez and Ashley Haigh-Smith withdrew before tackling a stage in anger.