Evans avoided a number of punctures, technical problems and accidents that affected many of his opponents on the surprisingly difficult 8th gravel stage of the day.

The Welshman won four stages in stages, winning the final super-special clash, leading Ravanper by 13.6 seconds and Dani Sorda of Hyundai third with a margin of 44.4 seconds.

Evans went through the first two stages to take the lead before losing to Sebastian Loeb of M-Sport, after the Frenchman’s victory in stage 4 led the nine-time world champion by 0.5 seconds.

However, Loeb’s hopes for a second win of the season after his triumph at Monte Carlo in January came to an end thanks to a rare mistake by the rider during the first test in the afternoon.

The M-Sport driver, who participated in only a few races this year, misjudged the left-hander, causing his Puma to slip into a wall, resulting in permanent damage to the rear right suspension, ending his workday early.

This allowed Evans to regain the leadership he had defended despite Ravanper’s later accusations.

Ravanper’s take-off to Evans ’closest rival highlighted the scale of the drama that unfolded, given that the Finn faced worse road conditions that opened the way. However, the 21-year-old is tying his pace in challenging conditions to win stages 7 and 8.

Ravanpera benefited from Leb’s retirement and finished fourth overall in the afternoon. It soon turned into a third when Auger was forced to leave the rally after receiving two punctures in stages 6 and 7.

The eight-time world champion was rejected by the front left side, causing him to lose two minutes while changing the steering wheel. But the second in the next stage marked the end of his day, deciding not to take two spare. The Frenchman will return to the game on Saturday under the restart rules.

Although Neville was second on the road, he wisely drove to sit second until the front propeller shaft broke on a section of road before Stage 8.

The problem affected his front left side, and although the fix allowed him to continue, he lost more than a minute in the last two stages, dropping him to seventh in the overall standings, trailing Evans by 1 min 46.4 s.

Kale Ravanpera, Jon Halttunen, Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT Toyota GR Yaris Rally1

Photo: McKlein / Drawings of motorsport

Neuville wasn’t the only Hyundai to have suffered from the trouble, as Tanak discovered a couple of punctures in stages 6 and 7 and a transmission problem. The Estonian lost more than three minutes, pushing the 2019 champion from fifth to 10th place overall.

Sorda in third place Hyundai was able to take advantage of the challenges to qualify for third place by the end of the day, pre-starting its first rally of the season.

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Takomoto Katsuta of Toyota was one of the few who escaped the puncture but survived a half-turn in Stage 6 and returned home in fourth place, 49.6 seconds behind the lead.

Gus Greensmith topped the M-Sport charge when the Briton finished eight rounds in fifth despite two punctures. The latter arrived at Super Special Head to Head, which held on to much smoother gravel and asphalt.

Teammate Pierre-Louis Lube finished the day sixth, but finished fourth before he left the road at high speed in stage 8.

Christmas Lube on stability Craig Brin and Adrien Furmo finished eighth and ninth overall overall after the pair hit the puncture list. Bryna was also lucky enough to avoid getting into the bank, which damaged the right back of his Puma in Stage 8.

The rally of Portugal continues on Saturday, the crews are waiting for seven more stages.


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