The water on Rally Italy Sardinia has continued to pick off the Rally1 field, this time swallowing up Elfyn Evans who crawled to the finish of SS10 with an engine problem as Sébastien Ogier moved into the lead over Esapekka Lappi.
Evans was running fifth after Saturday’s opening two stages but was a distant 32.5 seconds from Kalle Rovanperä.
But shortly into the first pass of Erula – Tula Evans was driving incredibly slowly after going through a water crossing with too much speed.
It was a similar situation to Takamoto Katsuta and Ott Tänak who both fell victim to engine troubles thanks to water splashes on SS8 and SS9 respectively.
Evans dropped close to two minutes on the stage and following the stop control was forced to put his Toyota GR Yaris Rally1 into EV mode just to get away.
“I wasn’t expecting it to be as bad,” he said. “I just hit it and exploded the front end…”
Back at the front the lead battle continued to bounce back and forth, this time in the favor of Ogier who once again retook the lead from Esapekka Lappi.
The Toyota driver lost first place on the previous stage but SS10 could well prove decisive as Ogier jumped back ahead by a strong 13s to grab a 12.7s advantage.
“It’s a difficult one, so of course when the difficulty is there it’s always a chance to make a difference,” he said.
“I fought and gave everything and the time is good.”
But for Lappi there was an explanation at the loss of time – a flat tire forced him to lose some valuable seconds.
Thierry Neuville lost some time to the front pair on SS10, but was relatively shocked at the news.
“I had a good stage, the same as the other stages,” he said. I don’t know, I am surprised.”
He’s now 15s shy of Lappi and 27.7s off the lead.