Evans repels Rovanperä on Saturday’s opener

Frustration further down the order as Gus Greensmith suffers a tire issue


Elfyn Evans took an important stage win over Kalle Rovanperä in the all Toyota battle at the head of Rally Portugal, while Gus Greensmith tumbled three places with a puncture.

Evans, who trails his team-mate by 59 points in the world championship, began Saturday with 13.6 seconds in hand over Rovanperä and looked to be losing time to his rival through the opening splits.

But last year’s Rally Portugal winner hit back through the rest of the test to edge Rovanperä by 1.3s on Vieira do Minho, earning himself a 14.9s advantage out front.

“It was pretty OK,” said Evans in his typically understated manner.


“It was slippery out there so it’s a fine balance between pushing too much and not enough.”

Rovanperä added: “It seems to be close then, haha!

“I was just trying to start the morning well, maybe not clean enough in places I was a bit wide, but let’s see.”

The two GR Yaris Rally1s were in a league of their own on the stage as they beat the next quickest car by over 10 seconds.


They gained over a minute on Greensmith who had been fifth overall for M-Sport heading into Saturday but picked up a puncture towards the beginning of SS10.

He and co-driver Jonas Andersson chose not to stop and change it which proved to be a wise call as they lost less time than they would’ve done had they stopped.

But Greensmith’s frustration was obvious as when he arrived at stage end, he essentially blanked the stage-end reporter before confirming in a depressed tone that the puncture happened “towards the beginning” of the stage.

Dani Sordo’s third place is looking under threat as he lost 1.1s to Toyota Next Generation’s Takamoto Katsuta.


It closes Katsuta – who felt the “car is working very, very well so I’m very happy” – to just 4.1s behind Sordo’s Hyundai.

Thierry Neuville meanwhile has begun his fightback after a shock driveshaft problem on Friday.

Just a tenth off Katsuta’s SS10 pace, Neuville moved up to seventh due to Greensmith’s woe but took a massive swipe out of Pierre-Louis Loubet too, outpacing Loubet by 21.1s to close to just 9.7s behind.

But Loubet at least had an explanation: “We did a spin and the feeling wasn’t good, I don’t know. I was sliding everywhere,” he said.


Breen had been just 2.9s behind Neuville overnight but “really, really struggled with the front of the car” with two hard tires bolted onto his Puma Rally1. He dropped 9.1s to Neuville to fall to 12s behind in seventh spot, 1.3s up on his hampered team-mate Greensmith.

Ott Tänak was the only driver to not take any hard Pirellis within his tire package for Saturday morning’s loop, but the 2019 world champion wasn’t too invested in his strategy.

“In the end it doesn’t really matter, we just see how it works.”

The Hyundai driver is 10th overall after suffering two punctures on Friday afternoon that was then followed by transmission trouble.


Tänak did nibble 8.6s out of his deficit to ninth placed Fourmaux but the gap between the pair is still a sturdy 1m26.2s.

“To have 18 world titles in front of me it’s quite interesting, the lines are quite good so I need to use them for the next one!” said Fourmaux.

The comment was in reference to the fact Sébastiens Loeb and Ogier were the first two drivers onto the stage following their respective Friday retirements.

Loeb however struggled on SS10 with what he felt was the incorrect tire choice; like team-mate Breen two hard and two soft boots were fitted to his Puma.


Ogier, who had four softs bolted onto his Toyota, was some 15.8s faster than his old rival but still clearly frustrated to have retired courtesy of too many punctures the previous day.

“We tried to drive otherwise it’s a bit annoying, we don’t have any target,” Ogier said. “We’ll try and use this day as a test.”

His 13m50.7s stage time was seventh best.

SS10 Results

  1. Elfyn Evans/Scott Martin (Toyota) 13m37.9s
  2. Kalle Rovanperä/Jonne Halttunen (Toyota) +1.3s
  3. Takamoto Katsuta/Aaron Johnston (Toyota) +11.4s
  4. Thierry Neuville/Martijn Wydaeghe (Hyundai) +11.5s
  5. Ott Tänak/Martin Järveoja (Hyundai) +11.7s
  6. Dani Sordo/Cándido Carrera (Hyundai) +12.5s
  7. Sébastien Ogier/Benjamin Veillas (Toyota) +12.8s
  8. Adrien Fourmaux/Alexandre Coria (M-Sport Ford) +20.3s
  9. Craig Breen/Paul Nagle (M-Sport Ford) +20.6s
  10. Sébastien Loeb/Isabelle Galmiche (M-Sport Ford) +28.6s

Leading Positions after SS10

  1. Elfyn Evans/Scott Martin (Toyota) 1h39m21.2s
  2. Kalle Rovanperä/Jonne Halttunen (Toyota) +14.9s
  3. Dani Sordo/Cándido Carrera (Hyundai) +56.9s
  4. Takamoto Katsuta/Aaron Johnston (Toyota) +1m01.00s
  5. Pierre-Louis Loubet/Landais (M-Sport Ford) +1m48.2s
  6. Thierry Neuville/Martijn Wydaeghe (Hyundai) +1m57.9s
  7. Craig Breen/Paul Nagle (M-Sport Ford) +2m09.9s
  8. Gus Greensmith/Jonas Andersson (M-Sport Ford) +2m11.2s
  9. Adrien Fourmaux/Alexandre Coria (M-Sport Ford) +2m23.9s
  10. Ott Tänak/Martin Järveoja (Hyundai) +3m50.1s