Elfyn Evans extended his lead in the WRC 2 category on day two at the Che Cuevara Energy Drink Tour de Corse after winning three of the day’s four stages.
The Welshman, whose Fiesta R5 was locked in a fierce battle with Jan Kopecky’s Skoda Fabia R5 on the first day, took a 15.7sec lead into Saturday’s twisty asphalt stages.
Despite dropping 4.2s to his rival in the second test when the “feeling wasn’t quite there”, Evans regained his composure on the next two stages and set fastest times on both.
His benchmark speed on the 30.80km, rain-soaked final stage was particularly impressive. He was 15.5s faster than Kopecky to open up a 37.8sec overnight lead.
“I really concentrated on the technique of driving when the road was damp and slippery. It seemed to work for us,” Evans said.
Yoann Bonato completed the top-three in his Citroën DS 3, albeit 3m 15.7s off the leading pace. The Frenchman moved ahead of Kevin Abbring when the Dutchman’s Hyundai i20 R5 picked up some top-mount damage after suffering a puncture.
Concerns about his car’s water temperature in the penultimate stage forced Abbring to pull over and he eventually retired from the rally.
Julien Maurin was fourth overnight, having ended the day with a second-fastest time in the last stage, while Rally 2 runners Pierre-Louis Loubet and Quentin Gilbert completed the top six.
Jose Suarez was set for a top-six finish until his Peugeot 208 suffered some front-end damage after an altercation with some rocks in SS6. He was forced to retire shortly afterwards.