The 2019 world rally champion produced an impressive push at the start of the afternoon loop, resulting in the 2023 Rally Sweden winner cutting Evans’ rally lead from 19.1 seconds to 12.5s, before drama struck on the day’s penultimate stage.
Tanak initially reported in stage 15 that he had suffered an issue with his handbrake which left the Estonian frustrated as it allowed Evans to ultimately extend his lead to 25.4s heading into Sunday,
Speaking in the service park at the ned of the day, Tanak explained that he was battling a transmission and hydraulic problem, the latter he thought was connected to the handbrake issue. M-Sport is trying to ascertain the cause.
“It seems like it is actually quite many different things but what exactly, it is difficult to say,” said Tanak. “First we had a transmission [issue] and a hydraulic problem, probably with the handbrake, but it was not really hampering really the last stage, and we had some chassis things.
“We have quite a few things [going on] so it is definitely good to be here [in service park].”
Ott Tänak, Martin Järveoja, M-Sport Ford World Rally Team Ford Puma Rally1
Photo by: M-Sport
When asked if he thought it was possible to replicate his strong pace across Sunday’s four stages to catch Evans, he added: “It is tricky and it [the day] is short and we know the stages quite well.
“For sure, we will keep going but for him [Elfyn] it looks quite easy now.”
However, rally leader Evans says that the win is far from safe and he will have to push to secure his first WRC victory since Rally Finland in October 2021.
“I wasn’t really happy with my afternoon to be honest and probably the worst I have felt through the weekend to this point, especially that first long stage after service, I could get any confidence,” Evans told Motorsport.com.
“It is only a spin or a puncture or whatever, it is nothing, so we still have to get on with the job and still drive at the same pace.”