Toyota’s Elfyn Evans claimed top honours in Portugal by securing his fourth career victory in the FIA World Rally Championship.
After competing on fresh stages of Croatia, the 2021 WRC season moved to Portugal for the fourth round of the championship and the first gravel round of the season. Once again, the final contest was between Toyota Gazoo Racing veterans Elfyn Evans and Croatia Rally winner Sébastien Ogier, only this time, the former redeemed himself by winning in Portugal. For those not aware, Evans had lost the top spot in Croatia to his teammate Ogier by just 0.6 of a second. Therefore, by winning in Portugal, Evans and co-driver Scott Martin finally gained some solace.
Despite Thierry Neuville’s early crash and subsequent retirement on the opening day of the rally, Hyundai still seemed to be in a dominant position, with Ott Tänak leading the WRC pack right up until Special Stage 14. During SS14, it was Tänak who fell victim to tricky gravel conditions and ended up tearing off the right rear suspension of his Hyundai i20 WRC. Unable to continue, he was forced to abandon his fight for the top spot.
This opened up the top stage for those tailing Tänak – Evans, Hyundai’s third driver Dani Sordo & Ogier. With a 10.7-second overnight lead over Sordo, Evans went all-out in the opening stage of the final day to double that lead. With a comfortable buffer, Evans now simply had to complete all the remaining stages without any incident to win the rally. Therefore, Sordo ended up finishing in a crucial second place for Hyundai while Ogier’s third-place finish made it a Toyota double podium yet again.
Despite the third-place finish though, the Frenchman still sits on top of the WRC drivers’ leaderboard, with 79 points, while teammate Evans now breaths down his neck – behind by just two points.