Evans into Italy lead as dust frustrates drivers

The Toyota driver starts day two by moving into first place, and joins Rally1 drivers voicing concerns about dust


Elfyn Evans has moved into the lead of Rally Italy after the first proper test of the rally, Terranova, as the majority of Rally1 crews have voiced dissatisfaction about insufficient time gaps between cars causing dust problems.

Overnight rally leader Thierry Neuville had beaten the quartet of Toyotas on the Olbia superspecial on Thursday but as second car on the road, discovered a wall of dust in the latter section of Terranova.

Trees closely lined much of the stage so dust hung in the air and took longer to clear without a strong wind, with three-minute gaps between the Rally1 drivers entering the stage proving insufficient.

Neuville started the stage leading; he finished it eighth overall.

“There’s no visibility at all. We lost up to 10-15 seconds in the dust; I had to slow down completely,” he said.

“It was known before, we mentioned it to the FIA, to the organizers. Before the rally we had already dust in the recce with three to four minute gaps sometimes and nobody wants to listen to us.


“Obviously live television, itinerary, everything is too tight. It’s every year the same and it’s a shame because for the driver, it’s really dangerous.”

Evans was much more concise in his assessment of the dust situation: “It was really bad. Every year the same.”

While he couldn’t see much, there was still enough visibility for Evans to clock the fastest time, 0.8s up on M-Sport’s Pierre-Louis Loubet.

That time was enough to elevate Loubet to third place in the rally but not second, as his run on Olbia’s Thursday superspecial was among the slowest of the Rally1 crews.

Ott Tänak was third-quickest on Terranova and moved up to second place, 4.7s off new leader Evans. But he found the idea that he was genuinely fast in the dust laughable.

“Ha! No,” he responded. “The visibility is until the bonnet. The road is just a bit of car with trees on the side.

“These stages are a killer like this. Once you miss it will be a hard stop. It is very challenging at the moment.”

Facing no dust issues as first car on the road, points leader Kalle Rovanperä remained exactly where he’d been on Thursday night, in fourth place, now 7.9s off the top spot.

And it was the same story for Toyota team-mate Esapekka Lappi, who remains fifth after focusing on making it “safely through” the wall of dust.

Adrien Fourmaux was fastest of the Ford Pumas nominated to score manufacturer points in sixth place, ahead of Craig Breen in seventh.

Takamoto Katsuta, like Neuville, had started Terranova at the sharp end of the leaderboard but ended it languishing near the bottom, plummeting to ninth place.

Like Neuville, he complained that the gaps between cars were insufficient for the conditions.


“I don’t know why it’s always three minutes like this and don’t put four minutes like Portugal. It’s not really nice; it’s dangerous to be honest,” said Katsuta.

Gus Greensmith completed the top 10, while Hyundai’s Dani Sordo is already 23s off the pace back in 11th.

SS2 results

1 Elfyn Evans/Scott Martin (Toyota) 9m22.7s
2 Pierre-Louis Loubet/Vincent Landais (M-Sport Ford) +0.8s
3 Ott Tänak/Martin Järveoja (Hyundai) +4.1s
4 Kalle Rovanperä/Jonne Halttunen (Toyota) +7.6s
5 Esapekka Lappi/Jenne Ferm (Toyota) +7.8s
6 Adrien Fourmaux/Alexandre Coria (M-Sport Ford) +9.8s
7 Craig Breen/Paul Nagle (M-Sport Ford) +11.4s
8 Takamoto Katsuta/Aaron Johnston (Toyota) +15.1s
9 Thierry Neuville/Martijn Wydaeghe (Hyundai) +15.3s
10 Gus Greensmith/Jonas Andersson (M-Sport Ford) +16.3s

Leading positions after SS2

1 Evans/Martin (Toyota) 11m50.2s
2 Tänak/Järveoja (Hyundai) +4.7s
3 Loubet/Landais (M-Sport Ford) +5.0s
4 Rovanperä/Halttunen (Toyota) +7.9s
5 Lappi/Ferm (Toyota) +8.1s
6 Fourmaux/Coria (M-Sport Ford) +11.3s
7 Breen/Nagle (M-Sport Ford) +13.1s
8 Neuville/Wydaeghe (Hyundai) +14.6s
9 Katsuta/Johnston (Toyota) +14.9s
10 Greensmith/Andersson (M-Sport Ford) +19.0s