PARIS: M-Sport Ford's Elfyn Evans led Toyota's championship leader Ott Tanak by four and a half seconds after a controversial final stage to the first leg of the Tour de Corse on Friday.
The Welshman lost nearly a minute after catching Kris Meeke's struggling Toyota in the closing km and being unable to get past on a narrowing road, meaning he finished nearly 11 seconds adrift of Tanak.
Stewards, however, credited Evans with the same time as his rival after reviewing video, maintaining the gap from the day's penultimate stage.
"The issue in the final stage was a difficult one to call but I think the outcome was fair," said Evans.
Hyundai's Belgian Thierry Neuville was in third place, 5.3 seconds behind Tanak.
Reigning champion Sebastien Ogier, last year's winner for M-Sport in his home race and four points behind Tanak in the current standings, had a frustrating day and was sixth in his Citroen.
The Bastia-based rally, round four of the championship, has its longest leg on Saturday with six stages comprising more than half the event's total distance.
(Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Toby Davis)