Elfyn Evans declared himself happier than he ever has been with his Toyota GR Yaris Rally1 after winning all four of Saturday morning’s Rally Finland stages.
Heading into the second full day, the Toyota driver had 6.9 seconds in hand over Hyundai’s Thierry Neuville with a big battle anticipated.
But Evans has taken the sting out of the fight by upping his lead to 17.7s with four stage wins on the bounce.
Prior to the loop, Evans had only won three World Rally Championship stages all year but has more than doubled that tally with four across the day so far.
Where has that speed come from?
“Yeah it’s been working pretty well out there,” Evans told DirtFish.
“Car’s working well, feeling’s been good so yeah just sort of come together let’s say.”
Evans has struggled to find the same affinity with the Rally1 Yaris as he did with the old World Rally Car, but today the car felt better than it ever has done to Evans.
“Yeah probably I would say so,” he said.
“Probably the first time I’ve really just driven and the style has delivered the times rather than pushing. It seems to be working OK.
“We changed a few things between Estonia and here,” he added.
“Estonia wasn’t so bad but there was clearly a step that needed to be made and it seems like we found a little something again.”
Neuville on the other hand had a more difficult morning, despite promising to give it his all to win last night.
“I mean the rhythm was there, the speed was there, we pushed very hard, just Elfyn was faster than us,” Neuville told DirtFish.
“And yeah seems like he is able to control the speed and keep us easily behind.
“We did what we could. We were able to increase the speed from yesterday but Elfyn is controlling and yeah the only thing we can do is keep up the pressure and see what happens.”
Neuville’s main trouble was with rear grip, something which affected third-placed team-mate Teemu Suninen as well.
“The car feels good,” Neuville said, “I just feel we do not have traction and sometimes we lose the rear for no reason, and just with the grip changes it’s a bit too much on/off for us.
“It’s little, but it’s the difference.”
The Belgian therefore feels resigned to his fate and unable to catch Evans on speed alone.
“No, definitely not.”
Will that change Evans’ approach this afternoon?
“To be honest no. We still have to continue driving as we have been doing.
“17 seconds is not… I know it’s I guess a gap that’s difficult to catch in Finland but still anything can happen that can change that on its head very, very quickly so we have to keep at it.”