Elfyn Evans says he was confident he had the race pace to challenge for a third victory of the year in WRC2 for M-Sport but an off on SS12 denied him any opportunity in Portugal.
After a solid but unspectacular start to Rally Portugal the Welsh driver had been suffering from a lack of power in the Ford Fiesta R5 but with a new turbo fitted for Saturday he duly made strong progress through the pack.
However, the M-Sport driver's charge was halted dramatically with a crash on the SS12 on Saturday afternoon which forced him into retirement for the event. Despite returning to action under Rally 2 regulations Evans trailed home in 14th in WRC2 and 30th overall.
The result has ended his strong run in WRC2 in 2016 having taken victory in the class at both Rally Monte Carlo and Rally Sweden before finishing fourth in Argentina.
“There have obviously been a lot of snags this weekend – the costliest one coming from myself – so it's not what we wanted,” Evans said. “We can't turn the clock back, but we know that we had the pace to win this rally. Now, we just have to look forward to Poland where we'll be aiming to put the record straight.”
Pontus Tidemand claimed victory for Skoda in WRC2 in the first summer European event on the World Rally Championship calendar which gave him an impressive eighth in the overall classification after the high rate of retirements in the premier class.