WRC points leader Elfyn Evans crashes out of Rally Portugal

The Toyota driver went off the road 13.8 kilometres into stage seven (Mortagua, 18.5km) while occupying sixth position after difficult day opening the gravel roads.

It is unclear exactly what happened to the Welshman that has triggered a premature end to his day. The Toyota team has confirmed Evans and co-driver Scott Martin climbed out of the car and are okay after the incident.

Evans was faced with a damage limitation exercise virtue of his championship position after moving into a tie for the series lead following an emotional drought breaking win in Croatia last month.

Despite the disadvantage of sweeping the gravel stages, Evans managed to end the morning loop sitting fifth overall, 18.0s shy of then rally leader Ott Tanak.

The two-time WRC title runner-up was however struggling for balance in his GR Yaris in the challenging conditions.

«Everything is difficult at the moment, obviously with the conditions and the balance [of the car] also a bit. It’s like that for now,” he said after stage five.

Evans dropped to sixth across the second pass of the morning stages with his bid to close the front runners further hampered by a damage to his right rear tyre on stage six.

His unfortunate exit on the next stage promoted Tanak to sixth spot following an eventful afternoon that resulted in the Estonian falling from the lead after his from right tyre came off the rim on stage four.

Elfyn Evans, Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT

Elfyn Evans, Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT

Photo by: McKlein / Motorsport Images

A strong afternoon from Toyota’s Kalle Rovanpera catapulted the Finn into a 14.2s lead over Hyundai’s Dani Sordo, who lost valuable time to a spin during stage seven.

Hyundai team-mate Esapekka Lappi jumped to for fifth to third overall after winning the by a mere 0.4s from Rovanpera.

M-Sport’s Pierre-Louis Loubet ended the test in fifth overall ahead of Neuville and Tanak, with Oliver Solberg leading the WRC2 class in seventh.

Five-time WRC rally winner Kris Meeke, partnered by Craig Breen’s former co-driver James Fulton, also competing in WRC2, retired on stage four due to a damper problem.

The WRC field will tackle one more stage later this evening to complete the opening day of action in Portugal.

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