Elfyn Evans delivered a stirring riposte to Corsica linea - Tour de Corse leader Ott Tänak as battle resumed in the island’s northern mountains on Saturday afternoon.
Stage info: SS10
Cap Corse 2, 25.62km
Saturday afternoon’s opener crosses Corsica’s narrow northern tip before winding down the west coast and is one of only two tests carried over from 2018 – albeit shortened by 10km at the start. It begins in Luri and drivers go pedal to the metal up the Col de Santa-Lucia, before diving downhill to Pino. The second half follows narrow, twisty roads with magnificent views of les Agriates, and after crossing Barrettali and Canari villages, a final hairpin leads to the finish.
After losing his hard-earned lead to the Estonian in the morning’s closing speed test, Evans made clear his intentions by clawing back vital tenths in the repeat pass through the 25.62km Cap Corse speed test.
The Welshman was second fastest in his Ford Fiesta, 0.7sec quicker than Tänak, to bring the margin between the pair down to 1.6sec with two more special stages remaining in the penultimate leg.
“It was good run, no dramas. I tried to be as smooth as possible, but still pushing,” said Evans, whose thoughts were clearly on managing tyre wear during the long afternoon loop in temperatures significantly warmer than this morning.
Both frontrunners opted for Michelin’s hard compound rubber and a relaxed Tänak indicated he was thinking along the same lines at the wheel of his Toyota Yaris. “Still a long way to go, this is not the last stage yet,” he smiled.
Kris Meeke was fastest, 2.1sec up on Evans, and while there were no changes on the leaderboard, Sébastien Loeb left the stop line with work to do on his Hyundai i20.
“We have a lot of understeer now, it’s very difficult to drive the car. I lost six seconds compared to the morning. We’ll try to change something in the set-up but it’s really not good,” said the eighth-placed Frenchman, who held a 43sec advantage over Meeke.