Rally Japan - 2nd Day - 1st Loop: Evans smashes the leaderboard on an extreme and chaotic Friday morning

At the end of Friday morning, Elfyn Evans is the new leader of Rally Japan with Thierry Neuville and Sebastien Ogier following him.

Elfyn Evans is now leading Rally Japan and managed to steal Thierry Neuville's lead at the end of Stage 2 as the Toyota driver was, by far, the fastest driver in all Friday morning stages.

The Belgian lost one place and is now second overall, 26 seconds behind the new rally leader. TN's approach was to avoid risks in SS2 as he saw that the road conditions werevery hard to judge due to the fact that there was no grip from the leaves and the pine needles while he said at the end of SS3 that he had never scared so much in his career like it happened with this rally.

Sebastien Ogier does the 1-3 for Toyota and lost the stage win of SS2 for four seconds by his teammate Evans.

Andreas Mikkelsed comes right behind the Frenchman for 2,1 seconds and suprisingly climbed to fourth overall.

Kalle Rovanpera completes the top five and was the driver who faced the most difficalt conditions in stages as he started first on the road.

Nikolay Gryazin is 4,4 seconds far from the 2023 WRC Champion and is in second place overall on WRC2 classification.

Esapekka Lappi's approach was to lose time than to take unnecessary risks and sits comfortably at seventh place overall as Ott Tanak is behind EP for 51,1 seconds.

Ott Tanak dropped five positions since the end of Thursday as it was very difficult for him to drive in SS2 and SS3. In fact, he was moving his head a lot throughout Stage 3 as the windscreen of his Puma was completely fogged up, but the most impressive is that Martin Jarveoja tried to clean the window while he was reading the pacenotes.

Takamoto Katsuta started his Friday morning in a positive way as he was the fastest driver on the first two splits of Stage 2, but afterwards he spun his Yaris 11.8 Km into SS2 resulting in damaging the front end. He arrived very angry at the stop control of SS2, as he carried a radiator issue after this spin, and was asking water from the marshalls. He and Aaron Johnston tried to fix this problem on the road section before the start of SS3, but it was impossible. Furthermore, he received a 70-second time penalty as he checked seven minutes late at TC3 control.

Dani Sordo locked up under braking and slid down an embankment resulting in swipping some trees along the way. His crash happened in the same place where Katsuta had a spin in SS2.

Adrien Fourmaux was the third Rally1 driver, who caught up by the same spot in Stage 2, as he went off the road in the same location as Sordo and Katsuta.

Stage 2 was red flagged due to the fact that Sordo's i20N blocked the road for the following crews.

Stage 3 was one of the most dangerous stages of the season as all Rally1 crews had almost no visibility due to the fact that the windscreen fogged up. 

Stage 4 was cancelled by FIA due to severe weather conditions, thus the crews will return back to the mid-leg service halt.

Watch below the stage times:

Watch below the overall classification after the end of SS4:

Photo Credits: Toyota

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