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Rally de Portugal: Elfyn Evans runner-up to Toyota teammate Kalle Rovanpera

Elfyn Evans was the defending champion in Portugal after winning the 2021 edition of the race

Elfyn Evans was runner-up to World Rally Championship (WRC) leader Kalle Rovanpera after a close tussle between the two Toyota teammates at Rally de Portugal.

The Welsh driver finished 15.2 seconds behind Finnish teammate Rovanpera, who has now won three races in a row.

Evans and co-driver Scott Martin took six of the weekend’s 21 stages and led throughout Friday and most of Saturday.

“I take my hat off to Kalle,” said the 33-year-old from Dolgellau.

“We definitely needed a result, that’s for sure. Of course, we’re disappointed with the outcome of today,” added Evans, who came to the race in ninth place in the Championship after a disappointing opening three races in his new hybrid-technology Yaris.

“From my side, it’s nice to be back on the podium and we should be able to build from here.”

Evans – who has been WRC series runner-up in each of the last two years – now moves up to fifth overall, having picked up 18 points for second place and one bonus point on the final powerstage for a series total of 36.

Rovanpera, 21, has 106 points and leads by 46 from Thierry Neuville who was fifth in Portugal, with the Belgian’s fellow Hyundai driver Dani Sordo just overhauling Toyota’s Takamoto Katsuta for third place. Spainiard Sordo, though, was more than two minutes behind Evans.

Ireland’s Craig Breen was eighth in his M-Sport Ford and is sixth in the WRC standings with 34 points.

The next round on the WRC calendar is Rally Italia Sardegna on 2-5 June.

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