In fine form, Elfyn Evans/Scott Martin drive their Toyota Yaris WRC to victory in this weekend’s tricky Rally Sweden. This the second round of the FIA World Rally Championship was held in unseasonably warm weather with a distinct lack of snow traditionally experienced for this event. With a cool head, and leading the event from its second stage, Evans never put a wheel wrong to claim Toyota Gazoo Racing’s first victory in 2020 and his second-ever WRC win.
The rally’s route was shortened from 18 stages to eleven before its started on Thursday evening, but the weather conditions and lack of snow forced organizers to axe another two stages from the event, meaning that every stage kilometre was vital for overall position.
Despite attacks from Ott Tänak/Martin Järveoja (Hyundai Shell Mobis WRT) and Toyota team-mates Kalle Rovanperä/Jonne Halttunen, Evans/Martin never looked in threat of losing their lead over the three days of the rally. Tänak finished second overall, 12.7 seconds adrift, in his Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC.
Behind the Estonian, it was a ding-dong battle for third place between Toyota team-mates Rovanperä and Sebastien Ogier/Julien Ingrassia. Heading into today’s last stage, it was Ogier that held third place, but set the fastest stage time to eclipse his team-mate for the final podium position by 3.4 seconds.
Under immense pressure from Thierry Neuville/Nicolas Gilsoul (Hyundai Shell Mobis WRT), Esapekka Lappi/Janne Ferm (M-Sport Ford WRT) held onto fifth place by 1.4 seconds after a rally-long battle between the Finn and Belgian.
In seventh place, and able to extract more speed from his Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC, Irishman Craig Breen and co-driver Paul Nagle were diligent team players in shadowing their team-mates and stealing Championship points away from their rivals.
Teemu Suninen/Jarmo Lehtinen (M-Sport Ford WRT) finished eighth overall after a lacklustre performance, but the Finns will most certainly bounce back to form on the WRC’s next stop, the Rally Mexico.
Toyota Gazoo Racing’s four factory entries all finished within the top nine, with Takamoto Katsuta/Daniel Barritt claiming ninth after a weekend of learning.
Jari Huttunen/Mikko Lukka (Hyundai i20 R5 rounded out the top ten, after a brave display of driving speed.
Mads Ostberg claimed victory in the WRC2 Category in his Citroën C3 WRC ahead of Ole Christian Veiby (Hyundai i20 R5) by 23.4 seconds and 37.7 seconds over Pontus Tidemand/Patrik Barth (Skoda Fabia R5 Evo).
The WRC3 Category victory was taken by Jari Huttunen/Mikko Lukka (Hyundai i20 R5) by 5.0 seconds from Emil Lindholm/Mikael Korhonen (Skoda Fabia R5 Evo) and 31.3 seconds ahead of two-time FIA World Rallycross champion Johan Kristoffersson and co-driver Stig Skjaermoen (Volkswagen Polo GTI R5).
The winner of the first round of the 2020 Junior World Rally Championship is Tom Kristensson/Joakin Sjoberg, with a 37.8 second advantage over Martins Seks/Renar Francis and over one minute on Ken Torn/Kauri Pannas in the one-make Ford Fiesta R2T category.
The WRC next heads to Rally Mexico on 12-15 March 2020 for a gravel spectacular.
01) E. Evans (Toyota Yaris WRC) – 01hr 11m 43.1s
02) O. Tänak (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC) +12.7s
03) K. Rovanperä (Toyota Yaris WRC) +20.2s
04) S. Ogier (Toyota Yaris WRC) +23.6s
05) E. Lappi (Ford Fiesta RS WRC) +32.4s
06) T. Neuville (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC) +33.8s
07) C. Breen (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC) +01m 00.9s
08) T. Suninen (Ford Fiesta RS WRC) +01m 24.5s
09) T. Katsuta (Toyota Yaris WRC) +01m 59.6s
10) J. Huttunen (Hyundai i20 R5) +04m 03.0s
Source: motorsport week