An excellent drive by Elfyn Evans and his co-driver Scott Martin saw TOYOTA GAZOO Racing World Rally Team celebrating a fourth home victory on Rally Finland. The British duo are now the only crew who can catch team-mates Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia – who finished fifth in Finland – from winning the championship with two rounds remaining, meaning a Toyota driver is now guaranteed to win the title for a third year in a row. The team has also taken a step closer to clinching the manufacturers’ championship.
In the first Rally Finland to be held for over two years, the team faced strengthened competition on the high-speed gravel roads. Evans was its best-placed driver at the end of the opening day on Friday in third overall, having produced a strong performance despite running second on the road. On Saturday morning he surged into the lead with four stage wins out of four, and he took an advantage of 9.1 seconds into the final day.
He was only 0.4s off the fastest time in the first of Sunday’s tests before delivering fastest times in both SS17 and SS18 to increase his margin. He sealed the win in style with the fastest time in the rally-ending Power Stage, claiming the maximum five bonus points.
The result means that the Toyota Yaris WRC – built in the rally’s home city of Jyväskylä – maintains its unbeaten record on its home roads since its debut in 2017. It is the car’s 25th WRC victory in total, on what was its final gravel event before new technical regulations are introduced for 2022. It’s also the 200th WRC podium for Toyota, which becomes only the third manufacturer to reach the figure.
With his second win of the season, Evans reduces the gap to championship leader Ogier to 24 points with a maximum of 60 available. In the manfuacturers’ championship, Toyota’s lead is increased to 61 points.
Ogier succeeded in his main aim this weekend of reaching the finish and banking more points towards the championship, and became increasingly confident with the car after making setup changes on Saturday.
Finishing one place ahead of Ogier in fourth overall was Esapekka Lappi and Janne Ferm in a privately-entered Toyota Yaris WRC – a strong return to the car with which they claimed a home victory four years ago.
After being caught out during Saturday, both Kalle Rovanperä and TGR WRC Challenge Program driver Takamoto Katsuta were able to restart on Sunday and gain further experience from their maiden Rally Finland starts in the top category of the WRC.
Elfyn Evans (Driver car 33)
“It feels pretty special to win for the team on its home rally. After a difficult rally for me in Estonia on roads with similar characteristics, it feels really good and especially the way we managed to do it. We made some changes to the car in our test and I found great confidence with it pretty early on Friday. I’m really happy and thankful for the team for all their work, it’s been a great weekend. I feel fortunate to have been able to drive this car on these roads, and to take the win is extra special. It’s a positive result in terms of the championship. The drivers’ title is still a long shot for me, but we’ll keep giving our best on every event.”
PROVISIONAL FINAL CLASSIFICATION, RALLY FINLAND
1 Elfyn Evans/Scott Martin (Toyota Yaris WRC) 2h19m13.7s
2 Ott Tänak/Martin Järveoja (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC) +14.1s
3 Craig Breen/Paul Nagle (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC) +42.2s
4 Esapekka Lappi/Janne Ferm (Toyota Yaris WRC) +58.8s
5 Sébastien Ogier/Julien Ingrassia (Toyota Yaris WRC) +2m54.4s
6 Gus Greensmith/Chris Patterson (Ford Fiesta WRC) +5m02.3s
7 Adrien Fourmaux/Alexandre Coria (Ford Fiesta WRC) +6m22.9s
8 Teemu Suninen/Mikko Markkula (Volkswagen Polo GTI R5) +9m52.1s
9 Mads Østberg/Torstein Eriksen (Citroën C3 Rally2) +10m07.8s
10 Emil Lindholm/Reeta Hämäläinen (Škoda Fabia Rally2 evo) +10m52.8s
34 Kalle Rovanperä/Jonne Halttunen (Toyota Yaris WRC) +1h02m51.7s
(Results as of 15:30 on Sunday, for the latest results please visit www.wrc.com)
Rally de España will be the penultimate round of the season on October 14-17. Based in Salou to the south of Barcelona, the event is returning to the calendar after a year away and will be held on fast and smooth asphalt roads – similar to a racing circuit in their characteristics – after several years as a mixed-surface challenge.
Credited to ACN Newswire and Toyota