“We’re feeling good and it’s a reasonably comfortable lead but tomorrow is a long day and we’ve got to keep on going,” said the Briton.
Jose Suarez completed the day-closing Mulhouse street stage with a punctured front-right tyre. Nevertheless the Spaniard holds second overnight with John MacCrone a heroic third after a gearbox issue held him back and left him without the use of second gear. However, an overnight change should enable the Scot to fight for more stage wins on Saturday’s final day.
Fredrik Ahlin, from Sweden, completed day one in fourth place despite damage to his Fiesta’s tracking following an earlier hit.
Brendan Reeves, second in the title standings behind Evans, languishes in fifth after he was forced to stop to change a puncture eight kilometres into Friday’s first test. The Australian hit back with several rapid stage times. Swede Pontus Tidemand lost several minutes when his car’s engine cut out on stage five.
Briton Alastair Fisher’s WRC Academy title hopes suffered a heavy blow when he retired with engine failure on stage three.