Elfyn Evans has finally been able to eat into Kalle Rovanperä’s Rally Portugal lead, reducing the deficit to 6.6s with two stages remaining.
Rain began to fall on the Fafe stage as cars passed through, a factor Rovanperä felt contributed to him losing 1.9s to his Toyota team-mate.
“It was getting foggier all the time and raining a bit more,” said Rovanperä.
Despite the time gain Evans doesn’t believe it’s likely he can catch his younger team-mate and win on pace alone – he needs a mistake from the championship leader to grab first place.
“Still not so far away but of course realistically he needs to do something a bit wrong now. Of course we’ll keep the pressure on,” he surmized.
Third place continues to be battled on razor-thin margins, as Dani Sordo could take only 0.1s out of Takamoto Katsuta for the final podium position.
The pair are separated by a mere 0.8s, yet Sordo was more concerned about who was behind him than ahead – namely his team-mate Thierry Neuville, 21.1s behind.
“I know him; this guy, always when he goes to bed, he wants to go faster the day after. It’s like he wants it all,” said Sordo of his team-mate.
“I will try to defend our position. With Taka, for sure it’s important to bring the two cars home. I will try to do my best. But the other Hyundais are flying.”
Any hopes of a strong result had disappeared for Ott Tänak on Friday with two punctures in two stages. But on Sunday morning, seeing two Ford Pumas potentially within reach, the 2019 world champion has gone full send to try and get sixth.
After deposing Pierre-Louis Loubet – who continues to capitulate time through a mixture of heavily used tires carried over from earlier in the rally and now a minor power steering fault – Tänak has targeted catching Craig Breen.
A second win in two stages was a big step towards that goal. The gap between them has closed to 20.5s. And Tänak was in a combative mood.
“I try to put some pressure on Breen. I think we can be close to him,” he said.
Breen had been somewhat dismissive of the threat from Tänak after Felgueiras, That tune had changed by the finish line of Fafe.
“You can say things like that when you’re driving these stages year in, year out,” was Breen’s response to Tänak’s fighting talk.
“I haven’t been here for four years. I was probably two gears too low over the jump so probably losing lots of time in places.”
- Ott Tänak/Martin Järveoja (Hyundai) +6m32.3s
- Thierry Neuville/Martijn Wydaeghe (Hyundai) +1.6s
- Elfyn Evans/Scott Martin (Toyota) +3.6s
- Dani Sordo/Cándido Carrera (Hyundai) +4.3s
- Takamoto Katsuta/Aaron Johnston (Toyota) +4.4s
- Craig Breen/Paul Nagle (M-Sport Ford) +4.9s
- Kalle Rovanperä/Jonne Halttunen (Toyota) +5.5s
- Sébastien Ogier/Benjamin Veillas (Toyota) +6.5s
- Gus Greensmith/Jonas Andersson (M-Sport Ford) +12.1s
- Adrien Fourmaux/Alexandre Coria (M-Sport Ford) +14.8s
Leading Positions after SS19
- Kalle Rovanperä/Jonne Halttunen (Toyota) 3h31m56.3s
- Elfyn Evans/Scott Martin (Toyota) +6.6s
- Takamoto Katsuta/Aaron Johnston (Toyota) +2m06.2s
- Dani Sordo/Cándido Carrera (Hyundai) +2m07.00s
- Thierry Neuville/Martijn Wydaeghe (Hyundai) +2m28.1s
- Craig Breen/Paul Nagle (M-Sport Ford) +4m19.3s
- Ott Tänak/Martin Järveoja (Hyundai) +4m39.8s
- Pierre-Louis Loubet/Landais (M-Sport Ford) +5m01.1s
- Adrien Fourmaux/Alexandre Coria (M-Sport Ford) +7m41.1s
- Teemu Suninen/Mikko Markkula (Hyundai) +11m36.2s