Evans retakes lead on SS5 after Loeb crash

A disaster for the Frenchman who hit the wall almost instantly and is out of the running.


Elfyn Evans has retaken first place on Rally Portugal, as erstwhile leader Sébastien Loeb ran wide at the very first corner of Lousã, hit a wall and retired.

Lousã features a brief asphalt section leading up to the beginning of the gravel roads which make up almost the entire test.

It was on this section, at the very first long left-hander, that Loeb slid wide and clipped a concrete wall with the right-rear wheel of his Ford Puma Rally1, forcing him to stop and retire.

That allowed Evans to retake the lead he’d lost on Arganil earlier on Friday morning but he was only third-fastest, allowing both Thierry Neuville and world champion team-mate Sébastien Ogier to make inroads.


After a tough morning for Ogier, where he felt neither he nor the car was at optimial performance, his response was immediate, winning the stage and moving from sixth to third, 4.8s off the lead.

“The car feels a little bit better,” he confirmed. “The grip is a little bit higher.”

Thierry Neuville had vaulted himself from ninth to third on the previous test, Arganil, then inherited second with Loeb’s off.

Hyundai’s best-placed driver scraped 0.7s off Evans’ lead to reduce the lead gap to 2.1s. And unlike most of the field, Neuville has taken two softs along with four hard tires, hoping to deploy them for better grip later in the loop.


Championship leader Kalle Rovanperä could only muster the eighth-fastest time on Lousã and complained that the roads were rough, though still retains fourth overall, a mere 0.9s ahead of Ott Tänak’s Hyundai.

Adrien Fourmaux is last among the running Rally1 cars but suddenly looked to be on the pace on Lousã, leading after the second split.

But to compound M-Sport’s misery, his front-left tire debeaded during the final section, ruining what looked to be a breakthrough stage for the third points-scoring Puma driver.

Pierre-Louis Loubet offered a glimmer of hope for the Cumbrian squad, clocking the second-fastest time only 0.6s off Ogier’s benchmark.

SS5 Results

  1. Sébastien Ogier/Benjamin Veillas (Toyota) 8m58.7s
  2. Pierre-Louis Loubet/Landais (M-Sport Ford) +0.6s
  3. Thierry Neuville/Martijn Wydaeghe (Hyundai) +0.7s
  4. Elfyn Evans/Scott Martin (Toyota) +2.6s
  5. Gus Greensmith/Jonas Andersson (M-Sport Ford) +5.3s
  6. Takamoto Katsuta/Aaron Johnston (Toyota) +5.5s
  7. Craig Breen/Paul Nagle (M-Sport Ford) +6.1s
  8. Kalle Rovanperä/Jonne Halttunen (Toyota) +6.1s
  9. Ott Tänak/Martin Järveoja (Hyundai) +7.0s
  10. Adrien Fourmaux/Alexandre Coria (M-Sport Ford) +7.7s

Leading positions after SS5

  1. Elfyn Evans/Scott Martin (Toyota) 45m51.7s
  2. Thierry Neuville/Martijn Wydaeghe (Hyundai) +2.1s
  3. Sébastien Ogier/Benjamin Veillas (Toyota) +4.8s
  4. Kalle Rovanperä/Jonne Halttunen (Toyota) +9.9s
  5. Ott Tänak/Martin Järveoja (Hyundai) +10.8s
  6. Craig Breen/Paul Nagle (M-Sport Ford) +15.4s
  7. Takamoto Katsuta/Aaron Johnston (Toyota) +16.4s
  8. Dani Sordo/Cándido Carrera (Hyundai) +21.2s
  9. Gus Greensmith/Jonas Andersson (M-Sport Ford) +21.3s
  10. Pierre-Louis Loubet/Landais (M-Sport Ford) +23.0s