By Ian Gordon
Elfyn Evans is expecting a ‘tricky’ final day on Rally Portugal as he looks to celebrate his first World Rally Championship victory of the season.
The Dolgellau born racer inherited the lead for Toyota on the penultimate stage of the rally on Saturday after Estonia’s Ott Tanak was forced to retire his Hyundai.
Evans leads by 10.7 secs from Hyundai’s Dani Sordo who took back 5.7secs on the final stage with Toyota team-mate Sebastien Ogier third.
“I was shocked that Dani was so strong in that last stage,” admitted Evans.
“It was disappointing, I tried to save the tyres for tomorrow. Obviously still a tricky day but today went pretty well.”
“Today went pretty well and we should be in a good position tomorrow, but we have to remain fully focused.
Former world champ Ott Tanak had dominated the early stages on Saturday and recorded his 250th fastest time on a special stage of the WRC.
But on the following stage – and penultimate speed test of the day – he parked up his crippled i20 WRC with a smashed rear suspension.
Evans had halted Tanak’s run of stage wins on Saturday and also went fastest when his rival hit problems.
Now having been denied victory in Croatia by just 0.6 secs last time out by reigning champ Ogier, Evans, with co-driver Scott Martin, is poised for a victory that could propel him to the top of the championship standings.
Sordo is his biggest rival with Ogier more than a minute back in third spot.
Leading positions after SS15
1 Elfyn Evans/Scott Martin (Toyota) +3h07m09.1s
2 Sordo/Rozada +10.7s
3 Sébastien Ogier/Julien Ingrassia (Toyota) +1m04.2s
4 Katsuta/Barritt +1m05.7s
5 Adrien Fourmaux/Renaud Jamoul (M-Sport Ford) +4m21.8s
6 Gus Greensmith/Chris Patterson (M-Sport Ford) +4m28.2s
7 Lappi/Ferm +8m21.2s
8 Teemu Suninen/Mikko Markkula (M-Sport Ford) +9m01.6s
9 Østberg/Eriksen +10m46.6s
10 Gryazin/Aleksandrov +11m01.1s