Rally Finland: Toyota driver wins fastest gravel rally

Surprise at the Rally Finland. Elfyn Evans, 32-year-old Toyota factory driver from the small town of Dolgellau in Wales, won the fastest gravel rally of the year. With his second win of the season, he shortened the gap to championship leader and team-mate Sébastien Ogier to just 24 points.

The outsider Evans kept the highly rated Hyundai works drivers Ott Tänak from Estonia and Craig Breen from Ireland in check. “I can’t believe it. I didn’t think a win in Finland was possible, ”said Evans, astonished at his performance.

He is now one of the illustrious circle of only 13 foreigners, from whom the Finns have had their butter taken off their bread in 70 home games so far.

Elfyn Evans, 32 year old Toyota factory driver from Dolgellau in Wales

Evans took the lead on the morning of the second of three stages with a series of personal bests. “I give 100 percent. But somehow Elfyn is always a bit faster, ”Breen wondered. The Hyundai temporary driver, a specialist in gravel special stages with average speeds in some cases over 120 km / h, had up until then just held the top ahead of teammate Ott Tänak. On Saturday evening, only the Estonian was within striking distance of leader Evans. The 2019 world champion was 9.1 seconds short at this point.

But the Toyota driver did not allow himself to be disrupted. He even dared the attack on the final “power stage”, which was risky in view of his tight lead. With another best time, he secured the associated five extra points.

On the other hand, championship leader Sébastien Ogier, 2013 Rally Finland winner, didn’t really get going this time. He even had to position himself behind the Finn Esapekka Lappi, who was driving a World Rally Car (1.6-liter turbo gasoline engine, around 380 hp, all-wheel drive) for the first time in almost a year.

“To be honest, I have no idea why it is,” puzzled Ogier. The defending champion did not win a single special stage. In addition, the 37-year-old received a penalty minute because he once did not put his helmet on correctly. However, rank five in the final result was not in danger. His lead over the British Ford driver Gus Greensmith was too big. With the yield of ten World Cup points, Ogier managed damage limitation.

This means that only the two Toyota works drivers Sébastien Ogier and Elfyn Evans are finally considered as rally world champions in 2021. For the Belgian Thierry Neuville, who was in third place in the table and on whom Hyundai’s last hopes rested before the Finland round, the second stage came to an end. In fifth place, ahead of Ogier, he had to park his i20 WRC because of a damaged engine radiator.
With two races still outstanding, Neuville’s 60-point deficit cannot be made up. Defending champion Hyundai will have to let Toyota go first in the brand world championship.
The next round of the World Championship is the Asphalt Rally Spain (October 14th to 17th) in the region of Catalonia south of Barcelona.

Result Rally Finland

1. Elfyn Evans / Scott Martin (Toyota Yaris WRC), 2:19: 13.7 hours
2. Ott Tänak / Martin Järveoja (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC), +14.1 seconds
3. Craig Breen / Paul Nagle (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC), +42.2 seconds
4. Esapekka Lappi / Janne Ferm (Toyota Yaris WRC), +58.8 seconds
5. Sébastien Ogier / Julien Ingrassia (Toyota Yaris WRC) +2: 54.4 minutes
6. Gus Greensmith / Chris Patterson (Ford Fiesta WRC) +5: 02.3 minutesn

World Championship stand after 10 of 12 rallies

1. Sébastien Ogier (Toyota Yaris WRC), 190 points
2. Elfyn Evans (Toyota Yaris WRC), 166 points
3. Thierry Neuville (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC), 130 points
4. Kalle Rovanperä (Toyota Yaris WRC), 129 points
5. Ott Tänak (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC), 128 points
6. Craig Breen (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC), 76 points

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