Evans above the rest as blown engine sidelines gutted Breen
Elfy Evans was on course for a first Rally Isle of Man win last night, a virtual victory parade for the young Welsh driver who has already been crowned British champion.
Evans, who secured the British title by winning the Ulster Rally last month, led by more than half-a-minute from his DMACK Ford team-mate Mark Higgins, a multi Manx winner, with fellow Welshman Tom Cave in third.
There were two Ulster drivers in the top six, Desi Henry holding fourth in his Skoda Fabia with the Citroen of Jonny Greer sixth.
But the much anticipated duel between Evans and Craig Breen, two drivers vying for places with factory teams in next year's World championship, never got off the ground.
They had shared fastest times on the first two stages on Thursday night, Breen quickest in his Citroen on stage one and then Evans going fastest on stage two, leaving them separated by just a 10th of a second.
But after just four miles of stage three, Breen, who had intended using the three-day Manx event as tarmac practice ahead of his call up to the Citroen team for the Tour de Corse at the end of the month, was out, the Irishman's DS3 coasting to a stop with engine failure.
"I'm really gutted," said the Circuit of Ireland winner. "I wanted three hard days in the car to prepare for Corsica but it wasn't to be. The engine just lost all its oil pressure."
With Breen gone, the chase was taken up by Higgins and Cave but throughout yesterday's second leg Evans edged away and, last night after 10 of the 19 stages, his lead was up to 35 seconds. The rally finishes in Douglas this afternoon.