MOTORSPORT NEWSRally

EVANS FASTEST IN PORTUGAL SHAKEDOWN

Elfyn Evans was quickest in Thursday morning’s shakedown at Vodafone Rally de Portugal after a frantic session in which the top five drivers were blanketed by less than a second.

The Toyota Yaris driver posted the benchmark time in his fourth and final run through the 4.60km Paredes test, edging Ott Tänak’s Hyundai i20 by two-tenths.

Evans’ Toyota Gazoo Racing team-mate, Kalle Rovanperä, was another tenth back in third while Japan’s Takamoto Katsuta made it three Yaris cars in the top four. FIA World Rally Championship leader Sébastien Ogier completed the top five, 0.9sec off the pace.

Katsuta was fastest in the opening run but the times tumbled as the gravel roads dried in the sunshine and the surface offered better grip with the passage of each car.

Rovanperä moved to the front after the second run and it was Tänak’s turn to top the times before Evans bagged top spot.

Northern Portugal has suffered plenty of wet weather recently and despite sunshine for the last couple of days, Tänak said the shakedown roads were still not dry.

“The cleaning does not seem to be too big,” he explained. “The roads are pretty damp, so this way is a bit more straightforward. I guess we will see how the roads can last. It has been raining a lot recently so they can get quite rough.

“It has been quite a long time since we drove stages where we already have the notes, so the recce was quite enjoyable. It was quite tricky though. In some stages we had some low cloud so no visibility, in others some heavy rain and it was constantly changing.”

Gus Greensmith had early problems when an electrical issue halted his Ford Fiesta on the liaison to the stage. His car was returned to the Matosinhos service park by truck, allowing the M-Sport Ford team to make repairs before he went out again. He was sixth, 0.3sec behind Ogier.

The leading times were:

PosDriverCarTime
1.Elfyn EVANSToyota Yaris03min 05.9sec
2.Ott TÄNAKHyundai i20+0.2sec
3.Kalle ROVANPERÄToyota Yaris+0.3sec
4.Takamoto KATSUTAToyota Yaris+0.8sec
5.Sébastien OGIERToyota Yaris+0.9sec
6Gus GREENSMITHFord Fiesta+1.2sec
7.Thierry NEUVILLEHyundai i20+1.5sec
8.Dani SORDOHyundai i20+1.7sec
9.Pierre-Louis LOUBETHyundai i20+2.4sec
10.Adrien FOURMAUXFord Fiesta+2.5sec