Toyota's Evans leads Rally of Sweden after opening day

2 min

Torsby (Sweden) (AFP)

Toyota's Welsh driver Elfyn Evans led world champion Ott Tanak by over eight seconds at the end of Friday's stages in the Rally of Sweden hampered by a lack of snow.

The effects of an unseasonably mild winter has resulted in the second leg of the championship being shortened from 19 to 10 specials.

Thursday's cancelled opening special was added to Friday's itinerary on a mix of ice and gravel with a smattering of snow on forest roads.

Tanak, who spectacularly crashed in his first run out for his new team Hyundai in the Monte Carlo Rally, kept tabs on Evans, the pair sharing the day's four stages.

"We can't complain with a day like that," said Evans, whose lone world championship success came on home ground in Wales in 2017 when he was a Ford driver.

"We have to do it all again tomorrow, but who knows what the conditions will be like. We will have to adapt to what's put in front of us," he added.

Tanak, relieved to be back behind the wheel after his horror crash in the season-opener, said: "It's not been too long in the car and we're taking it step-by-step.

"The feeling is still there, these things happen, but it has been a long time out of the car. Of course, I want to spend as much time in the car as possible and today was quite short, but lots has been learned."

Finland's Kalle Rovanpera is third, at 14.3sec and Evans' Toyota teammate Sebastien Ogier, fourth at 17.8.

"There was a little too much gravel here and there but there were good sections with nice grip," Ogier said.

Jari Matti Latvala had mechanical problems and pulled out after stalling his Yaris repeatedly after spinning off the track.

Leading standings

1. Elfyn Evans/Scott Martin (GBR/Toyota) 30mins 43.7sec, 2. Ott Tanak/Martin Jarveoja (EST/Hyundai) at 8.5sec, 3. Kalle Rovanpera/Jonne Haltunen (FIN/Toyota) 14.3, 4. Sebastien Ogier/Julien Ingrassia (FRA/Toyota) 17.8, 5. Esapekka Lappi/Jan Ferm (FIN/M-Sport Ford) 20.9, 6. Thierry Neuville/Nicolas Gilsoul (BEL/Hyundai) 23.6, 7. Craig Breen/Paul Nagle (IRL/Hyundai) 24.2, 8. Teemu Suninen-Jarmo Lehtinen (FIN/M-Sport Ford Fiesta) 31.4, 9. Takamoto Katsuta/Daniel Barritt (JPN/GBR-Toyota) 49.6

Special stage winners:

Elfyn Evans (SS2, SS4), Ott Tanak (SS3, SS8)