Evans closing rapidly on Tänak for second place

Ott Tänak's position in a Hyundai 1-2 is looking increasingly under threat


Elfyn Evans has closed to just 3.2 seconds behind second-placed Ott Tänak on Ypres Rally Belgium, setting just his second fastest stage time of the weekend.

Tänak had kept rally leader Thierry Neuville honest on Saturday morning, even taking the lead from him after the day’s opening stage – albeit by just a tenth.

A transmission issue had held Tänak back slightly for the rest of the loop and allowed Neuville to fly solo out front.

But even with the issue remedied, Tänak hasn’t been able to keep pace with Neuville or more worryingly Evans behind him – dropping another 1.7s on SS14 Dikkebus, trimming his advantage to just 3.2s.


“No stories to tell,” Tänak insisted. “It’s a demanding stage but a very clean stage, no trouble at all.”

Asked if his target was to catch Tänak, Evans replied: “Target doesn’t really change, we’re doing what we can in each stage and just going through them really and seeing what’s possible.

“I’m not saying it’s 100% perfect but 100% effort at least.”

Evans did manage to break Neuville’s streak of stage wins on SS14 – last year’s winner only going fourth fastest behind Evans, Kalle Rovanperä and Tänak – but Neuville is still a comfortable 17.2s clear at the front.

“It was like a first pass for me, obviously I didn’t do the stage the first time,” Neuville reasoned.

“Our gravel crew told us it was really dirty so we were very cautious but it was a good approach.”

Oliver Solberg has continued his pursuit of Adrien Fourmaux on Dikkebus, outpacing the M-Sport by 1.5s through the early splits.

Given that news at stage-end, Fourmaux was unperturbed: “The rally is still really long and I just don’t want to make mistake, so I’m too careful for sure but it’s OK,” he said.


“As long as he is only taking two seconds per stage it’s OK.”

But as it happened Solberg didn’t manage to take anything, setting the exact same time as Fourmaux to remain 1.6s behind in sixth overall in what is the closest battle on the leaderboard.

“Way too careful, way too clean,” said Solberg. “It’s a very slippy stage, very risky to do a mistake. Yeah, it’s OK.”

Esapekka Lappi is some 1m44.2s ahead of this battle in fourth overall, beating Fourmaux and Solberg’s effort of 7m44.8s by just eight tenths.

Words:Luke Barry