Evans leads as Loeb among five to hit trouble

Rovanperä fastest on dramatic SS4 as engine-bay fire hits Loeb

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Elfyn Evans has moved into the lead of Safari Rally Kenya as half the World Rally Championship field all encountered big problems on the unforgiving Kedong stage.

Incumbent rally leader Sébastien Ogier dropped 9.3s to his Toyota team-mate, complaining that he had “no power at the end” of the stage, falling to second.

Incredibly it’s now a Toyota 1-2-3-4 as championship leader Kalle Rovanperä took a second consecutive stage win to take third place ahead of Takamoto Katsuta, as conditions became very rough as more cars passed through the longest stage of the rally.

Lead M-Sport driver Sébastien Loeb completed the stage in one piece, slowed briefly by getting lost in his own dust at a hairpin and dropping out of the podium places to fifth.

But far worse was to come, as a small fire at the Kedong stop line emerged in his Ford Puma’s engine bay. It was put out and after a long struggle to fire the Puma up with an electrical issue, he was able to get under way using electrical power before being forced to retire on the road section.

Team-mate Gus Greensmith was also in the wars, picking up a right rear puncture that had major consequences.

Flapping rubber wrecked the bodywork on the Puma and eventually the tire disintegrated completely, leaving him running on the rim. He attempted to solider on to the finish line but that choice backfired, as the right-rear corner then caught fire.

In all Greensmith lost 13 minutes, after electing to stop and change the broken wheel less than a mile from the finish line.

Hyundai pairing Thierry Neuville and Oliver Solberg appeared to suffer from identical power issues aboard their i20 N Rally1s, both limited to 50mph and going no higher than third gear.

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Neuville had gotten further into the stage before his problem emerged so lost only 54.6s to the leader but Solberg had suffered heavier losses, over 2m30s off the pace.

Those losses have now dropped Neuville and Solberg to ninth and tenth respectively.

Struggles for those ahead have promoted Craig Breen from eighth to fifth overall, 6.7s behind team-mate Loeb.

Ott Tänak is now the lead Hyundai in seventh, though he also lost a few seconds getting lost in dust at the same corner as Loeb.

Adrien Fourmaux had a clean, drama-free run on Kedong yet fell down the leaderboard, dropping to eighth overall.

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