Rally GB: Evans storms clear as Neuville jumps title rivals
|By Matt Beer||Saturday, October 28th 2017, 10:25 GMT|
Elfyn Evans continued to storm away from the field on Saturday morning's Rally GB stages, as Thierry Neuville leapfrogged World Rally Championship rivals Sebastien Ogier and Ott Tanak into second.
A clean sweep of four more stage wins brought DMACK Ford driver Evans's overall lead up to a massive 49.3 seconds as light rain averted the Welshman's fear of excessive tyre wear on dry roads.
Neuville had begun the morning fourth, but outpaced M-Sport pair Ogier and Tanak throughout.
He jumped both on the Dyfi stage before the mid-morning regroup, and is now 1.2s ahead of Tanak and 7.5s ahead of Ogier.
Having fallen to fourth, Ogier admitted he should probably push harder - though he remains on course to clinch a fifth straight WRC title in Wales provided his rivals do not outscore him on Sunday's powerstage.
The battle between the three championship contenders is not far ahead of an equally intriguing dispute over fifth.
Kris Meeke took that place from Jari-Matti Latvala on the morning's Aberhirnant opener, but a mistake under braking on Dyfi cost him 10s and two places.
Andreas Mikkelsen had looked set to get ahead of both Meeke and Latvala with a string of quick times for Hyundai, though he picked up a 10s jump-start penalty on Dyfnant just as he caught Latvala.
He closed back to within 4.7s of the Toyota over the next two stages, and is now half a second ahead of Meeke in sixth.
Hayden Paddon lost eighth to Hyundai team-mate Dani Sordo with a puncture on Dyfnant.
He soon reclaimed the position, but both are under pressure from Juho Hanninen. Second to Evans on Dyfi headlined a promising morning for Hanninen, who also escaped from Toyota team-mate Esapekka Lappi after a brief early battle.
Mads Ostberg was trailing the WRC field in 12th, with a recurring electrical problem on his privately-entered Ford frustrating him hugely. He elected to retire at the regroup.
|1||Elfyn Evans, D.Barritt||M-Sport World Rally Team||Ford||1h49m39.7s|
|2||Ott Tanak, M.Jarveoja||M-Sport World Rally Team||Ford||50.5s|
|3||Thierry Neuville, N.Gilsoul||Hyundai Motorsport||Hyundai||53.0s|
|4||Sebastien Ogier, J.Ingrassia||M-Sport World Rally Team||Ford||56.8s|
|5||Andreas Mikkelsen, A.Jager||Hyundai Motorsport||Hyundai||1m05.0s|
|6||Jari-Matti Latvala, M.Anttila||Toyota Gazoo Racing WRC||Toyota||1m10.3s|
|7||Kris Meeke, P.Nagle||Citroen Total Abu Dhabi WRT||Citroen||1m15.5s|
|8||Hayden Paddon, S.Marshall||Hyundai Motorsport||Hyundai||2m00.1s|
|9||Dani Sordo, M.Marti||Hyundai Motorsport||Hyundai||2m07.4s|
|10||Juho Hanninen, K.Lindstrom||Toyota Gazoo Racing WRC||Toyota||2m10.2s|