Finland Rally | World champion Ogier under pressure from his teammate

Surprise in Finland Rally. Elvin Evans, a 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 cut the lead for championship captain and teammate Sebastien Ogier to just 24 points.

Outside Evans kept top-rated Hyundai drivers Ott Tanak of Estonia and Craig Brin of Ireland in check. “I can’t believe it. I didn’t think winning in Finland was possible,” said Evans, amazed by his performance.

He’s now one of the illustrious circle of just 13 foreigners, and the Finns have taken their bread from them in 70 home games so far.

Evans took the lead on the morning of the second of three stages with a string of personal best results. “I give 100 percent. But somehow Elfyn is always a little faster,” Brin wondered. The Hyundai interim driver, who specializes in gravel-specific stages with average speeds in some cases over 120 km/h, had until then taken the lead ahead of teammate Ott Tanak. On Saturday evening, the Estonian was only within walking distance of Chief Evans. The 2019 world champion was 9.1 seconds away at this point.

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Elvin Evans maintains the title fight with his Toyota teammate Ogier.

Photo: JUSSI NUKARI / AFP

But the Toyota driver did not allow himself to be disrupted. He even dared to attack the last ‘Strength Stage’, which was very risky given his powerful advance. With another best time, he got the five bonus points associated with it.

On the other hand, championship leader Sebastien Ogier, winner of the 2013 Rally Finland, did not really start this time. He even had to put himself behind Finn Esapekka Lappi, who was driving a World Rally Car (1.6-liter turbo petrol engine, about 380 hp, AWD) for the first time about a year ago.

“To be honest, I have no idea why that is,” Ogier baffled. The defending champion has not won a single special stage. In addition, the 37-year-old received a penalty for not wearing his helmet properly. However, the fifth rank in the end result was not in danger. His lead over British Ford driver Gus Greensmith was pretty big. With a tally of ten World Cup points, Ogier was able to limit damage.

This means that only Toyota working drivers, Sebastien Ogier and Elvin Evans, are finally considered world rally champions in 2021. For Belgian Thierry Neuville, who was third in the table and on whom Hyundai’s last hopes rested before the Tour of Finland, stage two is over. In fifth, ahead of Ogier, he had to park his i20 WRC because the engine coolant was damaged.

With two races still left, Neuville’s 60-point deficit cannot be compensated for. The defending champion Hyundai will have to leave Toyota as the brand’s world champion.

The next round of the World Championship is the Asphalt Spain Rally (14-17 October) in the Catalonia region south of Barcelona.

Finland Rally result

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 Nagel (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 Minuten
6. Joss Greensmith / Chris Patterson (Ford Fiesta WRC) +5: 02.3 Minuten

The World Championship stands after 10 of 12 Rallyes

1. Sébastien Ogier (Toyota Yaris WRC), 190 Punkte
2. Elfyn Evans (Toyota Yaris WRC), 166 Punkte
3. Thierry Nouvel (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC), 130 Punkt
4. Callie Rovanpera (Toyota Yaris WRC), 129 Punkte
5. Ott Tänak (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC) 128 points
6. Craig Brin (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC), 76 Punkte

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