Wheel issue nearly costs Evans fourth, Tänak leads overnight

Some expert mechanic skills from Evans before the stage started prevented the wheel from falling off


Elfyn Evans has successfully held onto his fourth place after some emergency repairs on the way to Saturday’s final stage, as Kalle Rovanperä reduced Ott Tänak’s Rally Finland lead to 8.4 seconds.

Evans’ problems began at the end of the previous stage, when Evans arrived at the stop control with his rear-right wheel sitting at a wonky angle to the wheel arch.

He reported that he had felt a knock that may have knocked him out of line, but it happened so late on the test that it didn’t really cost him time.

But Evans and co-driver Scott Martin were forced into some emergency repairs on the way to the Vekkula stage, using a ratchet-strap to tighten the wheel in place.

The Toyota crew effected a repair and made it to SS18 on time but reduced their pace on the stage in order to preserve their bodge job.


In total Evans leaked 52.1s to the fastest time, but considering the state of his rear-right corner and the high-speed nature of the Finnish stages, it was a mega effort to limit the damage.

“It’s something on the damper, so yeah,” Evans confirmed.

“It’s a shame now because I feel now I could’ve gone faster but at the same time if it broke…” he said, before Martin urged him to leave the stop control with smoke coming from the damaged corner.

Evans had been dropped from the lead fight anyway so he’s lost nothing on the offensive, but he’s managed to lose nothing overall too as his advantage over fifth-placed Thierry Neuville remains a healthy 45.8s.

Out front, Rovanperä is beginning to put Tänak on the ropes, making a massive statement of intent with an SS18 time that was 3.1s faster.


That was undoubtedly helped by a wild moment for Tänak on the final pair of switchback corners, where the Hyundai driver ran fractionally wide and almost clouted a bank.

“It’s still a bit of surprise where we are at the moment, but definitely it’s been a good day,” he said.

“With the conditions that were coming we really though we would lose a lot more, so actually we are doing quite well.”

Rovanperä added: “We lost quite a lot of time yesterday but today we have been trying our best to catch it.

“It’s not easy, the gaps are so small but the main thing is we are the end of the day here, we have good points so tomorrow we have to finish the job.”


Esapekka Lappi is now in a lonely third place thanks to the broken windshield that’s afflicted his entire afternoon. He’s now over half a minute down on the lead, needing some trouble out front to win Rally Finland for a second time.

“Now it was the worst,” Lappi said of his visibility issue, “when the sun is coming very low then there is really no visibility.

“We were not brave enough to clean the windscreen so that we don’t break it more, it’s very dirty. It was a nightmare but anyway we are here.”

Takamoto Katsuta suffered a high-speed half-spin early on the stage, the rear of his Toyota snapping away from him and forcing Katsuta to perform a five-point turn.

It cost him a damaging 32.4s relative to Neuville ahead of him, killing any needle in the battle for fifth place.


“The rear snapped at quite high speed, maybe fifth gear, fourth gear,” he said. “Yeah… quite stupid. Nothing really to say, quite stupid.”

Neuville is now exactly 42s up the road.

“In general the car was behaving much better today and yesterday afternoon already, but there is no reason to push,” he conceded.

“I know that on this rally I couldn’t push the guys in the front, they are absolutely flat out. We are in our rhythm driving through, we are still having fun.”

Gus Greensmith capped off a strong afternoon by taking another two seconds from M-Sport team-mate Pierre-Louis Loubet to hold seventh place by 4.2s.

“The afternoon’s been really enjoyable,” Greensmith said.


“I just need to do some work on my mornings, maybe have an extra coffee, but something needs to improve there. But strong afternoon.”

“He’s faster than me,” Loubet admitted, “it’s not so good to feel like that. But he’s doing well so he deserves that. I think we need a bit more commitment.”

Ninth and 10th places are filled by Rally2 cars, where an epic tussle is playing out in WRC2 between two Finns: Teemu Suninen and Emil Lindholm.

Lindholm had been making inroads into Suninen’s lead earlier in the day but the Hyundai driver responded across the afternoon to keep Lindholm at arm’s length, carrying a 10.7s advantage into Sunday.