Toyota’s Evans leads Tänak into Rally Finland’s final day

Tänak's afternoon attack was halted by rally leader Evans, and they ended Saturday with a joint stage win


Elfyn Evans leads Rally Finland by 9.1 seconds over Ott Tänak into the final day after the leading pair shared the fastest time on the Harju street stage.

Evans has never won in Finland before but put in an impressive performance across Saturday to pass and then edge away from of the Hyundais of Ott Tänak and Craig Breen.

Tänak hit back on the afternoon loop as the second-pass road conditions played more into the hands of his Hyundai’s set-up, but Evans kept tabs on him to repel the 2018 and ’19 Finland victor’s advances.

The two drivers both posting a time of 1m48.4s on the short Harju test was indicative of the close battle throughout the day, hinting at what’s to come on Sunday’s final four stages.

“It’s been a great fight obviously, a long way to go tomorrow but we’ll just take it stage by stage,” said Evans.

Tänak added: “It’s good to be on the pace with Hyundai in Finland, it’s a good step for the team.”


Photo: Hyundai Motorsport

Breen ends Saturday 19.5s down on the leader, having led the rally after Friday. He described it as “a reasonably good day” but was a little frustrated to have lost ground across the day, just like he did on his last two World Rally Championship appearances in Estonia and Belgihm.

“For a third time in a row we had the lead of the event so, so close and for whatever reason we just can’t put it together,” he said.

“Just to be amongst the top people is something very special but it hurts a little bit not being able to get that last bit.”

Esapekka Lappi is a lonely fourth in his Toyota Yaris WRC, 35.4s ahead of fifth-placed Sébastien Ogier but 28.8s adrift of the podium.

Given he had began Saturday just 6.7s away from the lead, his pace wasn’t quite as strong on Saturday but given he hasn’t driven a World Rally Car since December 2020, Lappi confessed it was another good day.

Esapekka Lappi

Photo: Jaanus Ree / Red Bull Content Pool

He was also pleased with his Harju performance, given he feels he’s “never been good” on that kind of spectator-friendly stage before.

“I’m learning still even though I’m getting older,” he remarked.

Ogier had looked destined to end Saturday in sixth spot after a low-key day where he struggled to find the ultimate confidence.

His feeling – and speed – did improve in the afternoon, and he gratefully accepted fifth when Thierry Neuville retired his Hyundai on the final forest stage.

Ogier was third fastest on Harju, content that his “second loop was much better”.

“The set-up change was a benefit for my confidence, my feeling and the pace was quite OK,” he said. “If you take starting order into consideration, it was not so bad so at least it’s going in the right way.”


Photo: M-Sport World Rally Team

M-Sport duo Gus Greensmith and Adrien Fourmaux head into Sunday 1m14.6s apart in sixth and seventh places overall.

For just the second time this weekend, Fourmaux got the better of Greensmith on a stage – and the other time he did so was also on the Harju street stage.

“This stage I always just want to get through it, there’s so many things to hit,” Greensmith admitted.

Teemu Suninen leads WRC2 and is now eighth overall in his Volkswagen Polo GTI R5. His car had appeared to be sick though across the afternoon with a warning alarm flashing up on his dashboard.

He then started a stage without his front bumper as he and co-driver Mikko Markkula rushed to fix the problem. Suninen, who leads Mads Østberg by exactly eight seconds overnight, revealed at the end of Harju that the issue was a hole in the radiator.

“We have to say we were lucky,” he added.

Emil Lindholm rounds out the top 10 in his Škoda Fabia Rally2 evo, leading WRC3 by 1m00.8s.

SS15 times

1 Ott Tänak/Martin Järveoja (Hyundai) 1m48.4s
2 Elfyn Evans/Scott Martin (Toyota) +0.0s
3 Sébastien Ogier/Julien Ingrassia (Toyota) +0.2s
4 Esapekka Lappi/Janne Ferm (Toyota) +0.4s
5 Craig Breen/Paul Nagle (Hyundai) +1.2s
6 Adrien Fourmaux/Alexandre Coria (M-Sport Ford) +1.9s

Leading positions after SS15

1 Evans/Martin (Toyota) 1h57m46.7s
2 Tänak/Järveoja (Hyundai) +9.1s
3 Breen/Nagle (Hyundai) +19.5s
4 Lappi/Ferm (Toyota) +48.3s
5 Ogier/Ingrassia (Toyota) +1m23.7s
6 Gus Greensmith/Chris Patterson (M-Sport Ford) +4m16.9s
7 Fourmaux/Coria (M-Sport Ford) +5m31.5s
8 Teemu Suninen/Mikko Markkula (Volkswagen) +8m21.4s
9 Mads Østberg/Torstein Eriksen (Citroën) +8m29.4s
10 Emil Lindholm/Reeta Hämäläinen (Škoda) +8m55.8s