The last time no top class cars retired in WRC

All eight Rally1 cars finished Rally Estonia 2023 without using SuperRally, something which last occurred in 2019


Rally Estonia 2023 will ultimately be remembered as Kalle Rovanperä’s event – one which he swept with ease, winning an incredible 15 stages and 13 in a row.

But, as ever with a World Rally Championship event, the storylines ran much deeper.

Take Thierry Neuville’s strong turn of speed, for example. Or Ott Tänak and M-Sport’s heartbreak with that five-minute penalty before the rally even began.

But Tänak’s penalty – and one for team-mate Pierre-Louis Loubet for selecting the wrong hybrid stage map for a Friday stage and therefore overboosting – were as close we got to any Rally1 drama this weekend.

Every single top class car that entered made it to the finish of the 21-stage event without retiring or leaning on SuperRally.

That’s a rare feat – one that hasn’t occurred since the Tour de Corse back in 2019.

The opening day of what was Corsica’s latest appearance in the WRC was all about the battle between Elfyn Evans (M-Sport) and Ott Tänak (Toyota).

(As a side note, isn’t it fascinating that four years later they now drive for the opposite teams?)

Evans drew first blood but Tänak soon nipped ahead, only for Evans to steal the lead back again after five of Friday’s six stages.


It looked as if Evans had lost first place on the day’s final stage when he was caught behind an ailing Kris Meeke, who had damaged the rear suspension of his Toyota on SS5, and dropped 11 seconds.

“I know Kris well,” Evans said. “He wouldn’t do that intentionally. I hope it gets resolved in the way it should.”

He didn’t, and it did.

Evans was given the same time as Tänak, meaning he carried a 4.5-second lead into Saturday.

But it had been a dramatic day for others. Meeke had punctured on the first stage which also spelt trouble for the two Sébastiens Ogier and Loeb.


Ogier nosed his Citroën into a bank, but it was worse for Loeb who struck his Hyundai against a kerb and feared he had damaged his suspension. Both were able to continue.

Tänak started Saturday brightly with two stage wins from three across the morning loop to relieve Evans of the lead. But a puncture in the afternoon dropped Tänak down to seventh and out of victory contention.

Happy days for Evans then? Not quite.

Neuville was lurking, and two stunning stage wins on SS11 and SS12 allowed him to overturn an 11.5s deficit into a 4.5s advantage as Evans appeared to drop the ball.

“No idea,” Evans said, having lost 16s on one stage. “It felt like a good stage. No idea. All to play for but that’s disappointing.”

Any thoughts that Neuville was now in the ascendency were soon dismissed on Sunday morning though.


Determined to grab his second WRC win, and first on asphalt, Evans stormed through the Eaux de Zilia stage 8.8s faster than anyone else and 16s quicker than Neuville.

That earned him that same 11.5s advantage he had previously held with just the powerstage remaining.

The world was waiting, and expecting, an Evans victory. But the Tour de Corse had one final trick up its sleeve.

Having failed to spot a pothole on recce as he was overtaking a traffic car, Evans crashed through it on the stage and punctured the front-right tire of his Fiesta WRC.

Heartbreakingly, the time began to leak away and the Welshman lost a minute-and-a-half through his struggle, dropping him down to third.

A grateful Neuville stole the win ahead of Ogier.


“I’m really disappointed for Elfyn, who did a really good job, but I think we deserved it as well,” he said. “We were pushing all the time. Never give up!”

Dani Sordo finished 6.2s ahead of Teemu Suninen in fourth, with Tänak recovering to sixth ahead of Esapekka Lappi.

Loeb and Meeke, who were both in the wars, made it through without missing a stage while Jari-Matti Latvala – the 10th and final classified World Rally Car – overcame two tire changes to score the final championship point.