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Wednesday, February 28, 2024

Evans storms to dominant victory from Neuville

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The Welshman produced his most convincing show in a Rally1 automotive up to now on his option to a second WRC victory of the season by 39.1s over Hyundai’s Thierry Neuville.

Toyota’s Takamoto Katsuta (+1m36.7s) edged Hyundai’s Teemu Suninen (+1m41.0s) to the ultimate podium place, whereas Toyota workforce boss Jari-Matti Latvala’s one-off WRC comeback resulted in a powerful fifth (+4m09.4s), in what was a rally of attrition.

Following his 2021 triumph, Evans’ second Rally Finland win makes him essentially the most profitable British driver within the occasion’s storied 72-year historical past, additionally matching Finnish greats Ari Vatanen and Timo Salonen as two-time winners.

Evans and co-driver Scott Martin assumed the rally lead on a rain-affected Friday when Toyota team-mate and championship chief Kalle Rovanpera exited his home event in spectacular fashion on stage eight, the legendary Myhinpaa check.

Rally favorite Rovanpera appeared accountable for the occasion after taking the lead in stage two, though Evans was capable of keep in contact with the Finn, sitting 5.7s behind earlier than Rovanpera rolled to trigger terminal chassis injury to his GR Yaris.

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The house hero’s shock retirement handed Evans a ten.9s lead over Neuville, who utilized stress by profitable Friday’s closing three phases to close the deficit to 6.9s.

Nonetheless on Saturday Evans blew away the problem from Neuville, winning seven of the day’s eight stages held in tricky wet conditions to storm right into a 32.1s lead. Evans’ most spectacular run arrived in stage 15 the place he took 7.8s out of nearest rival Neuville, who struggled with the rear stability of his i20 N throughout the day’s phases.

Evans’ blistering Saturday afforded him the chance to cruise to his seventh profession WRC win. Nonetheless, he elected to push and claimed the 5 bonus factors by profitable the rally-ending Energy Stage from Neuville. Evans now trails Rovanpera by 25 factors within the championship standings with 4 rounds remaining.

Elfyn Evans, Scott Martin, Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT Toyota GR Yaris Rally1

Picture by: McKlein / Motorsport Images

Katsuta ensured Toyota stuffed two spots on the rostrum after an intense two-day struggle with Suninen, the latter making solely his second Rally1 begin. Katsuta discovered himself in third after stage 5, earlier than shedding the spot to Suninen within the following stage.

Katsuta recovered to finish Friday in third 12.4s forward of Suninen, just for the positions to swap once more in stage 12. Katsuta suffered a pricey wild spin however the Japanese fought again to reclaim third after stage 15, earlier than profitable stage 18 to disclaim Evans a clear sweep of Saturday’s exams.

Katsuta held agency regardless of coming underneath stress from Suninen on Sunday to attain his fourth profession WRC podium with 4.3s in hand.

The Rally1 subject was accomplished by 18-time WRC rally winner Latvala, who made his first WRC begin since 2020. The three-time Finland winner and Rally1 debutant steadily gathered tempo as he acclimated to hybrid energy for the primary time, taking the ultimate bonus level within the closing Energy Stage.

Latvala was capable of climb to fifth because of a string of retirements headlined by Rovanpera. M-Sport’s Ott Tanak led the rally after winning Thursday’s super special, however an engine failure caused by a rock coming through the sump guard put final yr’s winner out of the rally on stage three.

M-Sport misplaced its sister automotive pushed by Pierre-Louis Loubet to a crash on the same stage, though the Frenchman was capable of rejoin the rally on Saturday.

Hyundai’s Esapekka Lappi joined the checklist of retirements after a heavy crash into trees on stage five. Lappi and co-driver Janne Ferm have been fortunate to keep away from severe harm.

The Rally1 exits helped promote Oliver Solberg to sixth total because the Swede topped the WRC2 runners forward of Sami Pajari, Adrien Fourmaux, Nikolay Gryazin and Andreas Mikkelsen.

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