High Performer – Elfyn Evans
After delivering the very best efficiency of his WRC profession thus far, Elfyn Evans totally deserves the High Performer award.
The Toyota driver was merely supreme as he fended off Hyundai’s Ott Tanak and Craig Breen to win Rally Finland, changing into solely the second British driver after Kris Meeke (2016) to overcome Finland’s unforgiving rollercoaster gravel roads.
Evans maybe flew underneath the radar within the construct as much as the occasion as team-mate Kalle Rovanpera was labelled the favorite, following successes on gravel in Estonia and an impressive run to victory on the Acropolis rally final month.
Nevertheless, Evans had accomplished his homework on the pre-event take a look at to unearth a set-up that allowed the Welshman to click on along with his Yaris and push to absolutely the restrict, which was an excessive amount of for his rivals.
Evans received 10 of the 19 phases, together with 5 consecutive wins from Friday’s difficult evening stage – a primary for the occasion since 1994 – to a sweep of Saturday morning’s phases. Regardless of relentless strain from two-time Finland winner Tanak particularly, Evans not solely held his nerve however drove away and claimed full factors by successful the Energy Stage.
It was a efficiency the modest Evans admitted was his finest. It was a coming of age of the 32-year-old and has breathed new life within the championship with solely 24 factors the hole to seven-time champion Sebastien Ogier, who completed a subdued fifth.
“It feels fairly particular to win for the workforce on its dwelling rally, “stated Evans. “After a troublesome rally for me in Estonia on roads with related traits, it feels actually good and particularly the way in which we managed to do it.”
Esapekka Lappi, Janne Ferm, RTE-Motorsport Toyota Yaris WRC
Picture by: McKlein / Motorsport Images
The Hyundai duo of Tanak and Breen deserve a point out for placing Toyota underneath critical strain of their yard the place the Yaris was born and developed. For Breen, a third-place end was a 3rd consecutive WRC podium marking the very best streak of his profession.
Likewise, Toyota wildcard runner Esapekka Lappi deserves reward for his run to fourth on his WRC return after 10 months away.
Kalle Rovanperä, Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT
Picture by: Toyota Racing
Second of Heartbreak
Finnish rally followers have been craving a brand new rally hero and it could have been the proper fairytale had the brand new flying Finn Rovanpera secured a memorable dwelling win on the occasion’s seventieth anniversary.
Nevertheless, it wasn’t to be this yr for Rovanpera on his first full WRC begin at certainly one of rallying’s classics whereas carrying the load of a rally mad nation on his shoulders.
Rovanpera, who turned 21 on Friday, struggled for outright tempo however was nonetheless within the combine holding fourth when his hopes got here to a halt within the form of a pile of gravel. He misplaced management of his Yaris by operating large right into a ditch and in attempting to right the tankslapper he careered head on right into a mountain of gravel defending a telegraph pole.
Fortunately, he emerged comparatively unscathed with just some soreness and again ache. It wasn’t the dream consequence he would have hoped for however there is no such thing as a doubt he will certainly win this occasion sooner or later.
“Sadly this yr’s Rally Finland didn’t pan out as we had hoped,” stated Rovanpera. “We had our hopes excessive for our first Rally Finland with a WRC automotive, however it simply didn’t work out.”
Craig Breen, Paul Nagle, Hyundai Motorsport Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC
Picture by: Fabien Dufour / Hyundai Motorsport
Crew of the Week – Hyundai
Finland has proved a bogey venue for Hyundai having by no means recorded a podium, so to bag two rostrums was one thing of a turnaround in fortunes for the Korean marque.
Boasting an ideal report at Rally Finland since returning to the WRC in 2017 and primarily based within the rally’s host metropolis Jyvaskyla, Toyota have been the overwhelming favourites.
Nevertheless, Toyota have been left shocked on Friday as Hyundai fronted a a lot stronger exhibiting than anybody predicted to finish the day with a 1-2 as Breen headed Tanak.
“We have been a bit fearful on Friday after we began and it didn’t look that robust at first however then Elfyn discovered one other gear within the darkness and since then we have been in a a lot better zone,” stated Toyota WRC boss Jari-Matti Latvala.
“After all, it’s our dwelling rally and we have now been very robust with Toyotas however clearly we may see Hyundai has accomplished nice steps with the automotive and the efficiency is increased.
It took a shocking show from Evans to maintain Toyota’s excellent report on the Yaris’ dwelling turf.
A double podium for Tanak and Breen actually outlined the progress made with the present i20 because it prepares for retirement on the finish of the yr.
The feat was not misplaced on Hyundai boss Andrea Adamo stating: “We have now come to Finland, a rally the place we have now by no means been aggressive, the place we’ve all the time struggled, and we have now fought for the win proper till the tip.
“I don’t assume anybody was anticipating us to be so near the win, with two automobiles within the podium positions.”
Finland’s high-speed, undulating ribbons of gravel punctuated with hidden crests and jumps can chunk onerous as Oliver Solberg can testify.
The Hyundai WRC2 driver have been sitting fourth in school when their i20 bottomed out which despatched the automotive right into a ditch after which into a daunting roll. Fortunately Solberg and new co-driver Craig Drew have been unhurt within the incident.
Toyota’s Takamoto Katsuta was additionally fortunate to keep away from an enormous crash when dropping management on a sixth gear nook. Amazingly the Japanese was capable of save a 360-degree spin that adopted and carried on.
Katsuta’s luck did run out on Stage 8 when he clipped a tree that compelled him into an early retirement.
M-Sport might have had a quiet Rally Finland however Adrien Fourmaux lit up the Energy Stage with this 68 metre leap.
This was the final gravel occasion for the present technology WRC automobiles and I believe it is protected to say we’re going to miss them.
Adrien Fourmaux, Renaud Jamoul, M-Sport Ford WRT Ford Fiesta WRC
Picture by: M-Sport
Ott Tänak, Martin Järveoja, Hyundai Motorsport Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC
Picture by: Vincent Thuillier / Hyundai Motorsport
Elfyn Evans, Scott Martin, Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT Toyota Yaris WRC
Picture by: Toyota Racing
Sébastien Ogier, Julien Ingrassia, Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT Toyota Yaris WRC
Picture by: Toyota Racing
If anybody wanted any proof of the dedication required to overcome Rally Finland, then this onboard from winner Elfyn Evans sums it up completely.