Evans leads Rally of Portugal after Tanak crash

By: AFP      Published: 12:06 AM, 23 May, 2021
Evans leads Rally of Portugal after Tanak crash

Elfyn Evans claimed the lead of the Rally of Portugal on Saturday after Ott Tanak suffered a broken suspension on the day's penultimate stage. Estonian Tanak had won four of the day's five stages to build a lead of 22.4 seconds over Welshman Evans, but damaged his Hyundai on stage 14.

Last year's overall runner-up Evans ended the day with a 10.7sec advantage over Dani Sordo in second place with championship leader Sebastien Ogier 1 min 04 sec behind in third following a short city circuit in Porto.

"I think it's over for him today," said Hyundai team principal Andrea Adamo, as Tanak and co-driver Martin Jarveoja wrestled with their car's  dislocated right rear wheel by the side of the course. 

"The stages are a bit rough," Tanak said after winning stage 12. 

The 2019 world champion had dominated all day but ended up suffering the same fate as Hyundai's other star, Belgian Thierry Neuville, who violently struck an embankment on the penultimate stage on Friday, while in second place. 

Neuville started again on Saturday but had to retire again hours later to repair his chassis, which was still damaged by the previous day's accident, and give himself a chance to pick up some points in Sunday's power stage at the end of the rally

Finn Kalle Rovanpera (Toyota), who was running in sixth place, returned to the service park in Matosinhos shortly before SS14 with a mechanical problem.