British driver Elfyn Evans pushed his Toyota into an early lead in the rally of Spain on Friday to put championship leader Sebastien Ogier under pressure.
Seven-time champion Ogier, also of Toyota, leads Evans in the championship standings by just 24 points with just one race to go after Spain.
After three specials in the hills behind the Costa Dorada on Friday, Ogier trailed Evans by 12.6sec on the Spanish tarmac with Belgian driver Thierry Neuville of Hyundai second at 7.9sec.
Evans was fastest on all three specials with several other drivers spinning or crashing, notably Takamoto Katsuta, who ran into a barrier.
“It’s very early days. I think a lot can change. The conditions will change a lot now for the afternoon, so we have to stay concentrated and stay at our best. It’s only just getting started,” Evans said.
There are 14 more specials to go on this 11th of 12 dates on the world rally calendar, with three more Friday.
“I was too cautious,” said Ogier. “The man who got up early was Elfyn,” he said of the Welsh driver who won the rally of Finland two weeks ago.
“It was not a bad loop, but Elfyn was faster,” said the Frenchman.
“He had a really good start and we have to try to react this afternoon.”