By Paul Evans
Elfyn Evans completed a very long, baking hot and bone shaking Saturday in Rally Italy in fourth position – and there will be no easing off on the final day on Sunday, as the M-Sport Ford Fiesta WRC driver starts it just 7.9 seconds ahead of fifth placed Andreas Mikkelsen (Hyundai).
While the top three edged out a bit of a gap at the top of the leaderboard, Evans was embroiled in a very close battle with the Norwegian driver.
Co-driven by Scott Martin, the Welshman will want to hold onto fourth, as it will give him extra points and put him in pole position to benefit from any mistakes or misfortune that happen ahead of him.
“It’s been an okay day for us,” said Evans. “I was a bit disappointed with the speed in some places, but overall it’s been fairly positive and we’re back up to fourth place.
“It’s going to be a close fight with Andreas tomorrow so it was a shame to lose some time with the dust on the last stage. It was coming and going with light dust in some places and thick dust in others where we had to completely slow down.
“Everyone else had a clean run, so let’s see what happens with that. Whatever the outcome, it’s still going to be close, so we’ve got to keep pushing. It’s another tricky day tomorrow, but we’ll give it our best and hopefully come away with another strong result.”
The final day of competition contains just two stages, both of which are tackled twice – including the bonus points scoring Power Stage, which is full of hazards and ends with a stunning section alongside the Mediterranean coast.
Rally Italy – leading positions after SS15
1. Ott Tänak / Martin Järveoja (Toyota Yaris WRC) 3:04:10.3
2. Dani Sordo / Carlos del Barrio (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC) +25.9
3. Teemu Suninen / Jarmo Lehtinen (Ford Fiesta WRC) +42.9
4. Elfyn Evans / Scott Martin (Ford Fiesta WRC) +1:25.4
5. Andreas Mikkelsen / Anders Jaeger (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC) +1:33.3
6. Thierry Neuville / Nicolas Gilsoul (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC) +2:32.4
7. Esapekka Lappi / Janne Ferme (Citroen C3 WRC) +2:58.3
8. Kris Meeke / Sebastian Marshall (Toyota Yaris WRC) +3:53.3