Evans extends Croatia lead over Tänak

There's now a four-way battle for fourth too


Elfyn Evans has opened up more time against Ott Tänak to extend his Croatia Rally lead after assuming control following Thierry Neuville’s SS11 crash.

Tänak lost 3s to Evans on the previous stage but was promoted to second after Neuville ended his morning early.

And on the final stage of the morning loop – a 9.71-mile pass of Platak – the M-Sport driver couldn’t make any more inroads as Evans looked to build on the advantage he had out in front, stating he’d lost a tire earlier in the day.

“It’s a racing one. Unfortunately we lost a tire on the first one so we didn’t have a good option for this one. We have done all we can and today it’s been feeling a bit different.”

Meanwhile the new rally leader Evans sits 22.6s ahead of Tänak, but said he was lucky not to have an off close to the end.

“The surface in there at the end, we knew was low on grip,” he explained.

“But I skimmed a barrier with the rear and we were very lucky.”


Esapekka Lappi is now in a relatively lonely third place, he ended the stage 22.2s off second overall, with 1m22.1s separating him from fourth.

Pierre-Louis Loubet was promoted to fourth place following SS11, but there are three Toyota’s close behind him with Sébastien Ogier now leading the hunt.

Ogier was able to get the better of Takamoto Katsuta and jump into fifth, with the eight-time champion now just 1.4s behind Loubet heading into the afternoon.

The aim for Ogier now is to continue his push up the field as he works his way further forward following Friday’s woes.

“I was stressed by the first section. There were a lot of cuts and I was trying to be careful because there is a high risk of punctures,” he said.

“What happened to Thierry has changed nothing for us – like I said last night, the only thing we can do is drive flat-out to try and catch some positions.”


That made the gap between fourth and seventh just 4.7s, which will likely continue to unfold on the day’s second loop.

Katsuta – the only driver of the quartet to lose a position on SS12 – was not happy with how his morning had ended and said he’d be struggling the entire loop.

“It’s nice to be close but I am struggling quite a lot today, I don’t know why,” he said.

“The car is working pretty well but something feels not so great.”

Kalle Rovanperä is now the driver behind Katsuta and is just 2.1s behind his teammate.