Engine issue puts Evans’ Rally Portugal at risk

Elfyn Evans was forced to stop on the penultimate stage with an overheating engine and his result now hangs in the balance


Elfyn Evans has suffered a late drama on Rally Portugal, as oil temperatures skyrocketing aboard his Toyota GR Yaris Rally1 has put his rally at risk.

Around two-thirds of the way through the Cabeceiras de Basto test Evans pulled over and switched his car into electric-only mode, then cruised to the finish line.

Evans, who is running sixth overall, struggled to reach the time control after the flying finish, with co-driver Scott Martin getting out to push at one point as Evans tried and failed to fire his engine up again.

In all Evans lost over a minute with his engine temperature drama – but the bigger concern is the points he’d already banked from Saturday.

Toyota’s main challenger for the drivers’ championship has six points in the bank after reaching the end of Saturday in sixth place – but if he fails to finish the rally, he will lose these points. Other drivers would move up a place in the Saturday points classification as a consequence.

After tinkering under the hood of his GR Yaris Rally1 just beyond the finish line for several minutes, Evans got underway again and is began transiting to the pre-powerstage regroup.

Evans wasn’t the only driver to suffer drama on the twisty Cabeceiras de Basto test. Grégoire Munster’s rally appears to be over after spinning and getting beached on the edge of the road, being caught out by a rut on the inside of a left-hander.

Sébastien Ogier has a 10.1s lead over Ott Tänak with only the Fafe powerstage remaining. Tänak won both the first pass of Fafe and Cabeceiras de Basto test to cut the deficit on Sunday morning. Thanks to his stage-winning efforts, Tänak also currently leads the Sunday classification by 1.8s from Ogier.


Grégoire Munster's rally also appears to be over after he beached his Puma on the penultimate stage

A very slow start to the day for Dani Sordo has allowed Adrien Fourmaux to take fourth place, a position he also holds in the Sunday standings behind Thierry Neuville.

Thick fog that rapidly changed location permeated the first two stages of the day, which had put Sordo off his game somewhat: “It was very foggy and I was really bad with all,” he said after Sunday morning’s first stage. “The car was understeering a lot, too soft. It was difficult to drive like this.”

Takamoto Katsuta returned under super rally after retiring on Saturday with suspension damage, as did Toyota team-mate Kalle Rovanperä with his roll into the trees a day earlier.

Road sweeping duties led Rovanperä to give up chasing day points, confessing he’d gone slow on Fafe specifically to save his tires for a run at the powerstage.

Katsuta is fifth in the Sunday standings despite his hybrid unit not working but cannot help Toyota in the manufacturers’ championship – he was not nominated for points in Portugal.

An epic battle for WRC2 victory – discounting the non-points-scoring Nikolay Gryazin – between Motorsport Ireland’s Josh McErlean and Teo Martín Motorsport driver Jan Solans took several turns.

Jan Solans

Jans Solans is currently fighting with Josh McErlean for top WRC2 points

Solans looked to be at a disadvantage, carrying only two brand new soft tires compared to McErlean’s four for the final day. McErlean took advantage, carving 8.1s out of Solans across Sunday’s first two stages to take a 0.1s lead.

Having lost the lead Solans was spurred on and demolished the WRC2 field on Cabeceiras de Basto’s second pass, beating McErlean by 6.5s to recapture the top spot.

Lauri Joona is now set for third in WRC2 among the points-registered drivers, as Yohan Rossel copped a second one-minute penalty in the space of 12 hours.

On Saturday evening it had been a penalty for the crew’s belts and headrests not being done up properly when driving off from a wheel change mid-stage. On Sunday morning it was a timing error, as Rossel and Arnaud Dunand left parc ferme one minute too early.