Evans started Saturday sitting in second trailing leader Kalle Rovanpera by 56.9s but ended the morning loop in fifth [+3m34.2s] after picking up punctures in stage eight [Soysambu] and 10 [Sleeping Warrior].

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Evans picked up a left-rear failure in the day’s opening test before losing the right rear in the famous Sleeping Warrior test. The Welshman admitted he was perplexed by the tire issues and was unable to pinpoint how they had occurred.

“I was driving as well as possible. It is such a long way to go you can’t think about too much and you just have to do the best rhythm and drive to the notes you made on the recce. The two punctures are a mystery, not ideal,” said Evans.

“The first one is a complete mystery, I at least know the area of ​​the second one but I don’t know how and why.

“We have to keep going as you never know what can happen, so we have to continue to drive well.”

Elfyn Evans, Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT

Photo by: Red Bull Content Pool

Evans wasn’t the only driver to suffer punctures as team-mate Takamoto Katsuta picked up front- and rear-right failures in stage 10. The Japanese driver yielded 1m24.6s, which dropped him to third behind Hyundai’s Thierry Neuvillehaving briefly inherited second after Evans’ first puncture.

“It was not clear where the rocks are in the cuts and they are very hidden, so you don’t know where they are,” said Katsuta.

“I hit something and got a puncture but there was nothing on the recce so I was very surprised, but this can happen. “It was very unfortunate, but you need luck here.”

At the front, Rovanpera driving the third Toyota, managed to skip through the stages with all his tires intact, benefiting from what he declared was a “steady” pace in the stages.

“It was a good morning from us and quite a steady pace in the first two ones, and I would say clever driving, and then on Sleeping Warrior we tried to have a good pace, but it was a bit muddy and tough,” he said Rovanpera, who opened up a 1m27.9s rally lead over Neuville.

“There was a lot of cutting and I was not taking a lot of risk in the cuts, I would say it was quite a steady pace from us and everything worked quite well.

“I felt I was driving quite fast when the conditions were good and then when it wasn’t I still took quite good care of the tires and the car, and it worked out well.”



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