Evans stays in control to win Portugal rally victory

·2-min read
Elfyn Evans flew over the Fafe leap and to victory in the Rally de Portugal

Elfyn Evans surged to victory in the Rally de Portugal winning three of the five stages on Sunday to put recent near misses behind him.

The 32-year-old Welsh Toyota driver took control of the race late Saturday, when Estonian Ott Tanak retired while in the lead.

Evans finished the last of the 20 stages 28.3 seconds ahead of Spaniard Dani Sordo 28.3 seconds back in a Hyundai.

"It feels good," said Evans. "We perhaps weren't the fastest crew this weekend, but we had really good pace and kept out of trouble and obviously did enough to keep Dani at bay today. It comes at a good time, so I'm happy to take this one."

Reigning world champion Sebastian Ogier finished third in his Toyota Yaris, 1min 23.6 seconds behind Evans.

Ogier remains top of the drivers championship, but is only two points ahead of Evans.

"It hasn't been a very pleasant weekend for us, but from a points point-of-view, it's okay," Ogier said.

The result ends the recent hold the French driver seemed to have on the Welshman.

Evans won two races last season but Ogier grabbed the drivers title by taking the last the final rally a Monza while Evans finished 29th.

Evans was second to Ogier, the opening rally this season, at Monte Carlo.

In the last race, in Croatia in April, Evans lost control on the final corner allowing Ogier to grab victory by 0.6 seconds.

Sordo said he was happy with his finish.

"I am so happy to come back with second place," the Spaniard said. "I was disappointed not to catch Elfyn today, but he was faster, and when you are faster you win.

Japanese driver Takamoto Katsuta recorded his best result at the elite level, coming fourth in a Toyota despite failing to finish higher than sixth in any of Sunday's stages.

"Definitely, I stepped forward compared to before," Katsuta said. "I enjoyed the rally except from today, but this is part of the game."

"I will try to improve on the next one."

Hyundai had a difficult weekend, with Belgian Thierry Neuville retiring on Friday when he was second and Tanak also suffering a broken suspension late on Saturday.

Tanak and Neuville took consolation on Sunday by grabbing the first two places in the power stage which carries separate bonus points towards the drivers title, ahead of Ogier.

That was not enough to prevent Neuville from being overtaken by Evans in the drivers standings.

Because he retained first place in the standings, Ogier will again have to open the road for the next race in Sardinia, which starts on June 3.

Like Portugal, Sardinia is run on gravel and going first can be a disadvantage.

"No one wants to open the road in Sardinia, but let's see what happens," Ogier said.