Toyota’s Elfyn Evans kept his title hopes alive by winning WRC Rally Finland from Hyundai pair of Ott Tanak and Craig Breen.


Craig Breen grabbed the lead of Secto Automotive WRC Rally Finland from team-mate Ott Tänak in a gripping night-time forest finale to Friday’s opening leg. Breen unseated the Estonian, who had led for all but one of the opening five speed tests, with a charging flat-out drive through the closing Oittila special stage – the rally’s first test in darkness since 1994.

With his Hyundai i20’s auxiliary lights blazing on the tree-lined roads, the Irishman overturned a 1.5sec deficit to lead Tänak by 2.8sec. Just 7.9sec blanketed the top five after a frantic Friday with Elfyn Evans, Esapekka Lappi and Kalle Rovanperä hot on their heels. Breen and Tänak shared two stage wins each and the pair were never separated by more than four seconds as the FIA World Rally Championship’s fastest round lit up the gravel tracks near Jyväskylä.

Tänak, who is bidding for his third straight WRC Rally Finland victory, was surprised to be in the fight for victory against a Toyota Gazoo Racing squad, which is based near Jyväskylä and is unbeaten on the rally since 2017. Evans even outpaced the duelling Hyundai pair through Oittila to claim fastest time and leap from fifth to third in a Toyota Yaris.

The Welshman kept clear of trouble to end 3.3sec behind Tänak and six-tenths ahead of Lappi. Lappi, the winner in 2017, was returning to the top tier for the first time since December last year but quickly shook off the rust in a privately-entered Yaris. He ended 1.2sec clear of fellow Finn Rovanperä, whose pace significantly improved on the second pass of the stages.

Thierry Neuville was more than half a minute off the lead in sixth in another i20. The Belgian was cautious throughout but ended with a 2.3sec advantage over WRC championship leader Sébastien Ogier, who was frustrated by his pace.

Takamoto Katsuta led after the opening Harju stage through Jyväskylä’s streets, but the Japanese driver was fortunate to survive a huge high-speed spin after hitting a bump in the next stage. He was eighth, ahead of Ford Fiesta pair Gus Greensmith and Adrien Fourmaux.


Elfyn Evans swept aside his rivals with a masterful morning attack on Saturday to take control of Secto Automotive WRC Rally Finland. Elfyn Evans swept aside his rivals with a masterful morning attack on Saturday to take control of Secto Automotive Rally Finland.

He was fastest on all four speed tests in the autumnal Finnish forests to soar from third to first in his Toyota Yaris, leaving Hyundai i20 duo Craig Breen and Ott Tänak trailing in his wake. Tänak retaliated this afternoon to claim three stage successes of his own before Evans added another fastest time.

They shared the spoils in the final test and Evans drove into the overnight halt with a 9.1sec lead in this 10th round of the FIA World Rally Championship (WRC). Victory here is essential for Evans to preserve his hopes of a maiden world title. Although he confessed to a few small errors, he was delighted with his performance on a demanding day which contained more than half the rally’s competitive distance.

Tänak had no answer to the Welshman this morning but set-up changes to his i20 at the mid-leg service transformed his feeling in the car and sparked his afternoon recovery. Breen started the day in the lead but the Irishman was unable to match the pace of his rivals. After yielding top spot to Evans in this morning’s second stage, he dropped behind Tänak in the afternoon’s opener and ended the day 19.5sec off the lead.

Esapekka Lappi retained fourth in his private Yaris. The Finn was 6.7sec off the lead after yesterday’s opening skirmishes but ended the penultimate leg 25.3sec adrift of Breen. Kalle Rovanperä was also in the victory battle on Friday night. He relegated Lappi from fourth in Saturday’s opening test, but that mattered little three stages later when the Finn drifted wide before smashing into an earth pile and retiring with frontal damage to his Yaris.

Championship leader Sébastien Ogier was fifth, a further 38.9sec back. The Frenchman remained at odds with his Yaris all morning before set-up changes raised his confidence levels and sparked improved times this afternoon. His hopes were helped by Thierry Neuville’s demise. The Belgian extended his advantage over Ogier before retiring in the final forest stage when a compression broke the radiator and caused a water leak.

Due to the subsequent engine damage, they will not restart on Sunday. Ford Fiesta duo Gus Greensmith and Adrien Fourmaux were sixth and seventh, with WRC2 leader Teemu Suninen eighth in a Volkswagen Polo GTI. Mads Østberg and WRC3 leader Emil Lindholm completed the leaderboard.

Takamoto Katsuta retired from eighth in this morning’s Päijälä when he landed awkwardly after a jump and an impact launched his Toyota Yaris into the undergrowth. With the right rear suspension broken, the Japanese driver went no further.


Elfyn Evans stormed to victory at Secto Automotive WRC Rally Finland on Sunday afternoon to keep alive his hopes of a maiden FIA World Rally Championship title. A stunning series of five back-to-back speed test wins on Friday night and Saturday morning propelled the Welshman from fifth to first. He survived intense pressure from Ott Tänak and Craig Breen across the rest of the rally to win by 14.1sec in a Toyota Yaris.

Nothing less than victory would suffice in his title quest and with maximum points for winning the closing Wolf Power Stage, the Welshman slashed championship leader Sébastien Ogier’s advantage from 44 points to 24 with two rounds remaining.

His Toyota Gazoo Racing team is based near the host city of Jyväskylä and victory preserved its unbeaten Rally Finland record since returning to the WRC in 2017. Toyota also increased its manufacturers’ championship lead over Hyundai Motorsport to 61 points.

Against a backdrop of stunning autumnal colours in the forests, the championship’s fastest roads provided tremendous action and Tänak and Breen both led on the opening day in a furious battle in their Hyundai i20s. Ultimately, they had no answer to Evans’ pace, but set-up improvements midway through Saturday gave Tänak more confidence and he eased clear of Breen to finish 28.1sec ahead.

Despite an overshoot at a junction on Sunday morning, the Irishman bagged his third podium from his last three outings and matched his 2016 result. Esapekka Lappi, winner in 2017, made a remarkable return to top-level competition in a privately-entered Yaris after 10 months away. The Finn was in the thick of the podium battle in the opening leg and eventually finished fourth, 16.6sec behind Breen.

Ogier ended fifth after a lacklustre drive in his Yaris. He never had the pace to match the leading quartet and a disappointing weekend was made worse when he was hit with a 60sec penalty on Saturday night for not fastening his crash helmet strap correctly earlier in the day. Gus Greensmith completed the top six in a Ford Fiesta, the Briton heading team-mate Adrien Fourmaux. WRC2 winner Teemu Suninen was eighth ahead of fellow support category driver Mads Østberg, with WRC3 winner Emil Lindholm completing the leaderboard.

Here’s the full WRC Rally Finland result:

[Note: The above is as per the press release from WRC]