It wasn't a great start to Rally de Portugal for Britain's Elfyn Evans and co-driver Daniel Barritt in the M-Sport World Rally Team new-evolution Ford Fiesta RS WRC today.
Setting a good pace through the first test of the morning (SS2), the British pairing were holding their own against the championship leaders – more than three seconds up on both Sebastian Ogier and Mads Østberg at the final split point. But just 3 kms from the end of the satge, the Welshman hit trouble.
The issue arose from the throttle pedal fly-by-wire system but in a telephone chat with his engineers, Evans affected a temporary repair that saw him through the remaining two speed tests and back to service where he said: "It was all going to plan but unfortunately we had an issue with the throttle towards the end of SS2 – with the fly-by-wire. The engineers talked us through various tests to get the car going and eventually we did manage to fix it but it took too long and we ran out of time."
"The really unfortunate thing is that it wasn't a new part. It's something that's very much tried and tested but it's just one of those things. It was a relatively easy fix for the technicians and we'll be back under Rally 2 regulations tomorrow. We need to look at the positives and if you look at our pace – and also Ott's [Tänak] pace – I think it's clear to see that we have made a step forward in terms of performance. Looking at those with a similar road position to us, I think we were setting a pretty good pace."
Meanwhile, team mates, Ott Tänak and Raigo Mõlder finished the day in fourth place with Ott commenting: "I'm happy with the handling and the balance which makes the driving really easy. We've had a good rhythm and it was great to see that the times have been pretty good without having to push the limit at all! We're very close to the guys ahead but there will be some more tough stages tomorrow. We have to approach it the same way we approached today; with the same speed and the same feeling."