When everything seemed to be going right, Ott Tanak had to give up. Elfyn Evans ended the second stage of the Croatian Rally in the lead, extending his advantage over his only rival for the win, namely the Estonian of M-Sport.
Evans, without doing anything major, doubled his lead over Tanak over the last two stages of the day by exploiting a handbrake failure on the Estonian’s Ford Puma Rally1.
Tanak thus had to abandon any thought linked to success, which up until SS14 seemed to be becoming more and more concrete. The handbrake failure occurred during SS15. It was at that precise moment that the race took a clear direction.
Now Evans will only have to manage his advantage in tomorrow’s 4 races to finally return to victory, something he has been missing for almost two years.
Esapekka Lappi continues to occupy third position firmly, but he is too far from the first two to try to insert himself in a fight, but also from Sébastien Ogier who follows him. His delay from Tanak is 30 seconds, but his advantage over the 8-time world champion is almost 1 minute.
Ogier, on the other hand, will have to be very careful tomorrow, because Kalle Rovanpera is just 2 seconds behind him and from the first position at the foot of the podium. Toyota will presumably be faced with a choice: either to impose a team order or to let its drivers battle each other, with the danger that one of them makes a mistake.
Takamoto Katsuta recovered sixth position from Pierre-Louis Loubet, so he is now sixth, with the Frenchman 6″2 behind.
As for WRC2, Yohan Rossel continues to lead the standings but his advantage has significantly diminished. Nikolay Gryazin, the first of his rivals and TokSport Skoda team driver, moved to 11″5. The victory of the Citroen Racing driver is thus back in question.
The same goes for third place, with Emil Lindholm third but hunted 10 seconds behind Oliver Solberg. However, it is important to remember that Solberg, this weekend, is not designated to take points valid for the World Cup.
The second stage of Rally Croatia ends here. It will resume tomorrow with the 13.15 km PS17 Trakošćan – Vrbno 1. The first car will enter the special at 7:08 Italian time.
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