Evans claims Rally GB lead and emulates McRae
Elfyn Evans leads the Rally GB round of the World Rally Championship after setting the pace on Friday morning's opening loop.
Fifth after Thursday evening's opening superspecial, Evans flew to the fastest time on two of the morning's three stages - the longer Myherin and Hafren tests - in his DMACK-shod Ford Fiesta, to build a lead of 6.7 seconds over the similar car of Ott Tanak.
Tanak had nibbled away at M-Sport team-mate Evans' advantage on the short Sweet Lamb test preceding Hafren, but Evans was in a different league on the 21.83-mile run through Hafren and went four seconds quicker than anyone else.
Evans is the first Brit to lead Rally GB since Colin McRae in 2001.
Tanak lies a comfortable second, 9.3s clear of surprise third place man Kris Meeke in his Citroen C3.
Meeke was critical of Citroen's preparations for the event on Thursday after a difficult shakedown test, but was second fastest on Friday morning's first stage and leapt up the order after starting the day 16th.
The fourth-fastest time on SS4 then moved Meeke up to third, at the expense of overnight leader Sebastien Ogier.
Ogier, who is looking for a fifth successive Rally GB win and can clinch a fifth-straight WRC title this weekend, was second on the leaderboard until the final Hafren stage.
The Frenchman forfeited more than 10s to team-mate Tanak and a full 14.2s to Evans and, after admitting at the stage end he was "not daring enough", is 0.4s shy of Meeke in the overall classification.
Toyota Yaris driver Jari-Matti Latvala was one of a number of drivers to complain about oversteer, but he sits fifth and within striking range of Ogier and Meeke, while Andreas Mikkelsen is the leading Hyundai contender in sixth.
Mikkelsen had a quiet morning in his i20, but steered clear of trouble and is two seconds ahead of team-mate Thierry Neuville.
A 10-second penalty overnight was far from the best start for Neuville, who retains a slim shot at the title, but the Belgian was encouraged by his pace by the end of the morning after a change to his diff mapping before SS4.
Dani Sordo and Hayden Paddon completed a Hyundai six-seven-eight-nine in the order, ahead of the second Toyota of Juho Hanninen.
The second Citroen of Craig Breen had been sixth overall before the final stage of the loop, but suffered a slow puncture on Hafren and is now 13th, ahead of leading WRC2 runner and class champion Pontus Tidemand's Skoda Fabia R5.