At the end of the second day of this last round of the season, Evans is currently ahead of his teammates at Toyota, the eight-time French world champion Sébastien Ogier and the Finn Kalle Rovanperä, already assured of winning the championship title. of the world 2023. The Norwegian Andreas Mikkelsen has lifted his Skoda to fourth place. The Scandinavian competes in the lower WRC2 category, where he is guaranteed to win the title this season.
Many drivers have made mistakes on the very tricky Japanese roads. Among the victims of the day, Thierry Neuville, then second, went off the road on SS6, seriously crashing his Hyundai. The crew, who escaped unscathed, had to give up for the day. A hard blow for the Hyundai driver who sees his main rival for second place in the championship Evans take off. At the dawn of the last meeting of the season, only seven points separate the two drivers - Evans ahead of Neuville - while up to 30 points will be gleaned between now and Sunday.
Last year, the Belgian -- five times rally vice-champion -- won for the return of the Japan Rally in the WRC after twelve years of absence while Evans, for a time at the helm of the event , had flattened a tire and lost the lead of the race. Earlier on Friday, the first stages of the day were marked by three more road crashes due to soggy asphalt covered in pine needles and near-zero visibility.
Frenchman Adrien Fourmaux was surprised, finishing his race in the mud. A few moments before, the Spaniard Daniel Sordo (Hyundai) had gone off the road at the same place. The rally continues on Saturday with eight special stages and will conclude at midday on Sunday.