Rally de Portugal: Day 1
Evans leads the TOYOTA GAZOO Racing charge
Elfyn Evans is second overall and just six seconds away from the lead after a battling first day for the Toyota Yaris WRC drivers on the Rally de Portugal. Takamoto Katsuta, Sébastien Ogier and Kalle Rovanperä fill positions four to six on the leaderboard heading into the longest day of the rally tomorrow.
Eight stages made up the opening day of the first gravel rally of the 2021 season, based mainly in the area around Arganil to the south of the service park in Porto. With no mid-day service, the crews had to look after their cars and had limited opportunities to make changes.
The morning loop of stages was a challenging one for the team, not helped by the road-sweeping effect that favoured cars starting further down the runner order. An improved performance followed in the afternoon, beginning with Rovanperä posting the fastest time in SS4. Another stage win came in a dramatic SS7: the only run over the returning Mortágua test. This was ultimately shared between Ogier and Evans after the latter was delayed in the dust of another competitor and had his time adjusted accordingly.
That meant that Evans moved up into second overall and he ended the day six seconds away from the leader.
Katsuta had another impressive day driving a fourth Yaris WRC as part of the TGR WRC Challenge Program, setting consistent times and finishing the day 9.4s behind Evans overnight. Ogier is 8.6s further back and 4.9s in front of Rovanperä.
Jari-Matti Latvala (Team Principal)
“We have to be very happy with the positions that we are in tonight. We were not in an easy position with the road order and we knew we would have a disadvantage, as the roads had dried out a lot after the rain we had earlier this week. But now we are in a position where all of our drivers can fight for the victory or the podium, so we can be very satisfied with that. Elfyn has been doing a really good job and is very close to the lead, Seb has lost less time than expected, and Kalle has had some good times as well. Also Takamoto has done a fantastic day, so we can look forward to tomorrow with all four cars.”
Sébastien Ogier (Driver car 1)
“For most of today, running first on the road was a bit the same like always: trying our best but always losing time on every stage. Luckily there was one stage this afternoon which saved us a little bit, SS7. I really did not expect to be fastest in this stage: It was the dirtiest stage of the day with a lot of loose and dry gravel. The fact I opened the road all day gave me the chance to save the tyres more than the others, we benefited from a lot of trouble for our competitors and we managed to do a good time. For sure, it looks a bit better now, we’re back in the fight for the podium at least. It’s still very open I believe, tomorrow is the longest day of the event and it should be a bit more interesting for us having some cars running in front of us on the road.”
Elfyn Evans (Driver car 33)
“It’s been a long and difficult day out there. We’ve had the new gravel tyres to get to grips with and it’s been tough to make the right choices. It was quite damp this morning but we’re very limited with how many soft tyres we have. We were quite often mixing tyres and therefore it’s been difficult to feel totally comfortable behind the wheel. But we seemed to have escaped trouble when others have found it, and on the back of that we find ourselves in a really strong position overnight. I struggled a bit for consistency this morning, but after that it was a bit better this afternoon and now we’re looking to make some small improvements to try and fight for that win over the rest of the rally. It’s going to be a challenging day tomorrow but I’m looking forward to it.”
Kalle Rovanperä (Driver car 69)
“Overall, today was quite difficult but we managed to do some good times too. In the morning I felt that the setup was not quite right for what I need: We haven’t done enough kilometres yet on the new tyres in these conditions and I was not sure which way to go. But when we could see what we needed to change, we were able to change the setup a bit in the middle of the day. After that the afternoon was better, but we also had an issue with the tyres which cost us a lot of time. I think we now know which direction to go in with the car setup and hopefully it will work out much better tomorrow.”
End of day one (Friday):
1 Ott Tänak/Martin Järveoja (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC) 1h22m35.0s
2 Elfyn Evans/Scott Martin (Toyota Yaris WRC) +6.0s
3 Dani Sordo/Borja Rozada (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC) +9.0s
4 Takamoto Katsuta/Dan Barritt (Toyota Yaris WRC) +15.4s
5 Sébastien Ogier/Julien Ingrassia (Toyota Yaris WRC) +24.0s
6 Kalle Rovanperä/Jonne Halttunen (Toyota Yaris WRC) +28.9s
7 Gus Greensmith/Chris Patterson (Ford Fiesta WRC) +1m02.3s
8 Adrien Fourmaux/Renaud Jamoul (Ford Fiesta WRC) +1m33.5s
9 Esapekka Lappi/Janne Ferm (Volkswagen Polo GTI R5) +3m34.9s
10 Nikolay Gryazin/Konstantin Aleksandrov (Volkswagen Polo GTI R5) +3m37.1s
(Results as of 20:05 on Friday, for the latest results please visit www.wrc.com)
Saturday is the longest day of the rally, made up of 165.16 competitive kilometres. The action is concentrated on the Cabreira mountains to the north-east of Porto with a loop of three stages run either side of service, before a new coastal street test in Porto alongside the mouth of the Douro river rounds out the day.
Press kit and Event pictures will be uploaded here
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