Elfyn Evans plummets to 5th in Safari Rally Kenya after wheel change mishap

Saturday, March 30th, 2024 12:43 | By
Elfyn Evans changing his tyre in Safari Rally. PHOTO/ WRC
Elfyn Evans changing his tyre in Safari Rally. PHOTO/ WRC

Welsh driver Elfyn Evans experienced a setback at Safari Rally Kenya, dropping from second to fifth overall after being forced to stop and change a wheel during Saturday's opening stage at Soysambu.

Evans, driving a Toyota GR Yaris Rally1, pulled over 12.7km into the stage to swap the rear-left wheel, losing almost two minutes in the process.

Neuville climbs in Safari Rally

This allowed his championship rival Thierry Neuville to climb to third place in his Hyundai i20 N, with Toyota's Takamoto Katsuta moving up to second while rally leader Kalle Rovanperä maintained his position.

Elfyn Evans stops to change the tyre in Safari Rally.  PHOTO/WRC
Elfyn Evans stops to change the tyre in Safari Rally. PHOTO/WRC

"We got an alarm, but didn’t really feel anything in the first instance," Evans explained. "Sure enough, it was [a puncture], and it was too far to try and drive it out."

In addition to Evans' troubles, Ott Tänak faced issues after forgetting to re-secure a bonnet pin on his Hyundai i20 N, resulting in a one-minute stop during the stage.

Grégoire Munster also encountered problems, completing the stage over five minutes off the pace with broken rear suspension.

"We had a very busy road section with lots of work, and the bonnet pin was our mistake," Tänak admitted. "We didn’t realize it hadn’t clicked in correctly, so we had to sort it out."

On Friday, Kalle Rovanperä delivered a dominant performance during the opening leg of the Safari Rally Kenya, establishing a significant lead of 56.9 seconds for Toyota Gazoo Racing. Rovanperä, a two-time FIA World Rally Championship winner, along with co-driver Jonne Halttunen, set the pace by securing the fastest times on all six of Friday's challenging gravel stages around Lake Naivasha.

Friday run in Safari Rally

Rovanperä's Toyota teammates Elfyn Evans and Takamoto Katsuta completed the podium, capitalizing on a challenging afternoon for Hyundai Motorsport, whose drivers Esapekka Lappi and Ott Tänak retired due to transmission and steering issues, respectively.

Gus Greensmith in action during the WRC 2. PHOTO/Gus Greensmith
Gus Greensmith in action during the WRC 2 Safari Rally. PHOTO/Gus Greensmith

Despite the demanding conditions and stiff competition, Toyota celebrated a podium sweep with Evans and Katsuta finishing second and third, separated by just 3.9 seconds after Evans made a decisive move in the final stage of the day.

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