Toyota's Evans leads first day of shortened Rally Sweden over Tanak

Stephen Brunsdon
Evans leads first day of shortened Rally Sweden

Toyota's Elfyn Evans remains in control of Rally Sweden at the end of the opening day of the shortened event, as reigning champion Ott Tanak reclaimed second.

Evans dominated proceedings in the morning, winning two of the first three stages to take an eight-second lead into service after four stages over his team-mate Kalle Rovanpera.

The teenager had kept in touch with Evans heading into SS5 but a spin and a stall at a hairpin allowed Tanak to back up move into second having lost that spot to Rovanpera one stage earlier.

Evans is now 8.5s ahead of Tanak (pictured below) heading into Saturday - a repeat run of Friday's action - with Rovanpera a further 5.8s in arrears in third.

High temperatures caused Thursday's opening superspecial in Karlstad to be cancelled, effectively turning it into a second Shakedown stage for the crews. The whole event had already been shortened due to weather concerns.

Treble Rally Sweden winner Sebastien Ogier maintains his fourth place and is now just 3.5s behind Toyota team-mate Rovanpera at the end of the first day. The Frenchman declared his day as "OK" but believes he can extract more from his Yaris WRC on Saturday.

"[There was] a little bit too much gravel here and there, and in some sections it was good fun driving with some good grip, so it's been an OK day," said Ogier.

"But it's clear that our team-mates have shown that we can do better."

Evans leads first day of shortened Rally Sweden

Esapekka Lappi is fifth for M-Sport, ahead of current championship leader Thierry Neuville - who struggled for confidence after running first on the road in his Hyundai i20 WRC.

Neuville said: "We thought going first would be a disadvantage and it definitely was.

"We're not happy with the overall classification but we are happy with how we are in the car."

Craig Breen lies seventh behind Neuville heading into Saturday, with the Irishman setting the third fastest time on the final stage of the day at Torsby.

M-Sport's Teemu Suninen and Toyota's Takamoto Katsuta complete the leading WRC times in eighth and ninth respectively.

There was disappointment for four-time Rally Sweden winner Jari-Matti Latvala, who suffered a suspected electrical issue on his privateer Yaris WRC following SS2 which caused intermittent engine cut-outs over the next test at Nyckelvattnet.

The Finn, who is without a factory drive in the championship for the first time since 2006, failed to make it out for the Torsby Sprint stage as a result.

In WRC 2 - for factory backed R5 cars - Citroen's Mads Ostberg maintains his advantage over compatriot Ole Christian Veiby's Hyundai. Ostberg's lead is 8.4s going into Saturday's stages.

Ostberg is not the top R5 car however, as WRC 3 (for privately entered R5s) Skoda Fabia driver Emil Lindholm is top and 4.5s clear of Ostberg.

Sweden is the start of the Junior World Rally Championship, and the Ford Fiesta R2T category is led by Tom Kristensson overnight.

European Rally Championship regular Martin Sesks holds second allbeit 23s off the top spot, while Roland Poom and WRC Esports champion Jon Armstrong crashed out.

Leaderboard after SS5

Pos Driver Team Car Gap
1 Elfyn Evans, S.Martin Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT Toyota 30m43.7s
2 Ott Tanak, M.Jarveoja Hyundai Shell Mobis WRT Hyundai 8.5s
3 Kalle Rovanpera, J.Halttunen Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT Toyota 14.3s
4 Sebastien Ogier, J.Ingrassia Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT Toyota 17.8s
5 Esapekka Lappi, J.Ferm M-Sport Ford WRT Ford 20.9s
6 Thierry Neuville, N.Gilsoul Hyundai Shell Mobis WRT Hyundai 23.6s
7 Craig Breen, P.Nagle Hyundai Shell Mobis WRT Hyundai 24.2s
8 Teemu Suninen, J.Lehtinen M-Sport Ford WRT Ford 31.4s
9 Takamoto Katsuta, D.Barritt Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT Toyota 49.6s
10 Emil Lindholm, M.Korhonen Emil Lindholm Skoda 1m45.7s

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