Everyone in the Service Park is wondering just what Elfyn Evans and co-driver Scott Martin had for breakfast, for this Toyota Gazoo Racing crew set the pace all day at the FIA World Rally Championship’s Rally Sweden. After one complete day’s rallying action, Evans/Martin lead the field by 8.5 seconds in far from ideal weather and road conditions.
Keeping his Toyota Yaris WRC’s nose clean, and keeping tidy lines over the twisty forest roads with changeable grip conditions, Evans has staved off the challenges of his team-mates Sebastien Ogier/Julien Ingrassia and Ott Tänak/Martin Järveoja (Hyundai Shell Mobis WRT) in what has been a thrilling encounter thus far.
The final stage of the day, a 2.80km blast around the Torsby Sprint 1 test, saw Tänak set the fastest stage time by 0.2 seconds over Evans, 0.6 seconds faster than Hyundai team-mates Craig Breen/Paul Nagle, and 0.9 seconds quicker than Esapekka Lappi/Janne Ferm (M-Sport Ford World Rally Team).
Overall, Evans leads Tänak by 8.5 seconds and team-mates Rovanperä by 14.3 seconds. Rovanperä lost second place overall after stalling his Yaris WRC machine in the stage’s first hairpin.
The rest of the overall top ten remains unchanged from SS4. Privateers Jari-Matti Latvala/Juho Hänninen have been forced to retire their Toyota Yaris WRC due to persistent mechanical problems.
The WRC2 battle has left off where it ended at the Rallye Monte-Carlo last month with Mads Ostberg/Torstein Eriksen (Citroën C3 R5) against Ole-Christian Veiby/Jonas Andersson (Hyundai i20 R5). Ostberg leads Veiby by 8.4 seconds, with Pontus Tidemand/Patrik Barth (Skoda Fabia R5 Evo) in third place, just 18.3 seconds behind Ostberg.
This the first round of the Junior World Rally Championship too, it is Tom Kristensson/Joakim Sjöberg leading Martins Sesks/Renars Francis by 23.0 seconds and Lauri Joona/Ari Koponen in third place and 331 seconds adrift of the category leader. Competing in identical M-Sport-built Ford Fiesta R2T machines, the racing has been close and competitive, and with mistakes being costly.
Crews will tomorrow repeat these four stages for another 63.68km of timed action.
Top Ten after SS5:
01) E. Evans (Toyota Yaris WRC) – 30m 43.7s
02) O. Tänak (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC) +8.5s
03) K. Rovanperä (Toyota Yaris WRC) +14.3s
04) S. Ogier (Toyota Yaris WRC) +17.8s
05) E. Lappi (Ford Fiesta RS WRC) +20.9s
06) T. Neuville (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC) +23.6s
07) C. Breen (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC) +24.2s
08) T. Suninen (Ford Fiesta RS WRC) +31.4s
09) T. Katsuta (Toyota Yaris WRC) +49.6s
10) E. Lindholm/M. Korhonen (Skoda Fabia R5 Evo) +01m 45.7s