WRC: Evans dominates shortened Rally Sweden as Rovanpera scores first podium
Toyota Gazoo's Elfyn Evans dominated the proceedings in a truncated FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) run in Rally Sweden.
There was every chance of WRC to cancel Rally Sweden due to the adverse weather conditions, where it was warmer than it should have been and the snow cover was not enough for the teams to run, be it of any category.
But the event took place, even though it was shortened, where a lot stages were cancelled from schedule. Evans with co-driver Scott Martin started off well on Friday abode the Toyota Yaris as he led the way on Friday after wins in SS2 and SS4.
He led teammate Kalle Rovanpera (co-driver Jonne Halttunen) until the final stage where Hyundai's Ott Tanak (co-driver Martin Jarveoja) toppled him in his i20 Coupe after winning SS3 and SS8. Toyota's Sebastien Ogier (co-driver Julien Ingrassia) was fourth.
He had the first M-Sport of Esapekka Lappi (co-driver Janne Ferm) just behind him with Hyundai's Thierry Neuville (co-driver Nicolas Gilsoul) only sixth from teammate Craig Breen (co-driver Paul Nagle). It was unfortunate retirement for Jarri-Matti Latvala, though.
The Finn drove a Toyota Yaris in private capacity with co-driver Juho Hanninen. He had a troubled run where his engine cut of several times before he retired in the final stage. The battle at the front, though, had Evans in a commanding position after Saturday.
He won SS5, SS6 and SS7 to extend his lead with Tanak steadying himself in second as Ogier pushed teammate Rovanpera to fourth in the opening leg. Behind, Lappi was fifth with Neuville sixth despite winning SS16 as only the Power Stage was left for Sunday.
All eyes was on it as Rovanpera took the win in SS18 - his first Power Stage win in WRC - as it helped Evans to score his first win for Toyota after a dominant run in Rally Sweden. It is also his first win since the 2017 Wales Rally GB event.
He leads the WRC standings but is tied on 42 points with Neuville, who ended up sixth in Rally Sweden. While Evans ruled the rally, Tanak was consistently second as he came back well from the heavy crash in Monte Carlo, where he was forced to retire.
A Power Stage win helped Rovanpera get third back as the youngster scored his first podium in only his second WRC event. Ogier then had to settle for fourth with Lappi fifth as he led Hyundai duo Neuville and Breen in sixth and seventh respectively.
M-Sport's Teemu Suninen (co-driver Jarmo Lehtinen) was eighth as Takamoto Katsuta (co-driver Daniel Barritt) was ninth in a privateer Toyota Yaris WRC.
[Image courtesy: Red Bull Content Pool] [Note: This report was also written by me on FormulaRapida.net]