Sat 18 Nov 2023

Vigilant Evans controls Japan lead

Elfyn Evans was in no mood to take risks on Saturday morning at FORUM8 Rally Japan. And, with a lead of well over one minute already in hand, he had no need to either.

Halfway through this penultimate day of the 2023 FIA World Rally Championship season, Evans remains in control with a commanding 1min 35.5sec advantage over his Toyota Gazoo Racing team-mate Sébastien Ogier. The foundations for that buffer were laid on Friday when, in waterlogged conditions, Evans was one of few drivers to enjoy a clean run.

Saturday’s opening two stages remained slippery and the Welshman took a cautious approach, dropping around 15 seconds to Ogier as a result. He did, however, top the timesheets for both runs of the Okazaki City super special which led the crews into a remote tyre fitting zone.

“The first stage was fine this morning, but on the second one I was probably a bit too safe which cost us some time,” Evans admitted.

Kalle Rovanperä completed a GR Yaris 1-2-3 although the Finn, like colleague Evans, lost some ground to Ogier. He trailed the Frenchman by 35.2sec whilst Hyundai i20 N driver Esapekka Lappi – almost two minutes further back – climbed to fourth.

The Rally2-specification cars of Andreas Mikkelsen, Grégoire Munster and Nikolay Gryazin covered the next three positions while Ott Tänak and Takamoto Katsuta, both recovering from time losses on Friday, held eighth and ninth overall. Ex-F1 driver Heikki Kovalainen completed the top 10.

Starts: Thursday, July 18, 2024 at 4:31:00 AM
Starts: Friday, July 26, 2024 at 7:00:00 AM
Starts: Saturday, July 27, 2024 at 6:00:00 AM