How joining Finland’s exclusive club was Evans' true WRC coming-of-age
By his own admission, the fifth World Rally Championship victory of Elfyn Evans' career in Finland last weekend was the drive of his life. Winning five stages in a row and soaking up huge pressure from the Hyundais on the fastest gravel stages around, the Welshman put in a faultless showing that proved what he is truly made of
In the past 70 years, only eight drivers born outside of Scandinavia have conquered Rally Finland. Such is the unique challenge the spiritual home of rallying presents, that it has traditionally favoured drivers who grew up driving its fast gravel stages. Until 1990, when Carlos Sainz broke through for Toyota, every single iteration of the rally had been won by either a Finn or a Swede.
Now, it’s an exclusive club that also includes Welshman Elfyn Evans.
Evans’ talents have been known for some time, having won Rally GB as long ago as 2017 - and only missing out on his maiden World Rally Championship win earlier that year in Argentina by 0.7 seconds. Upon moving to Toyota for 2020, he won on his second start in Sweden and led the standings into the final round at Monza, only to fall at the final hurdle in a duel with seven-time champion team-mate Sebastien Ogier.
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Toyota was unstoppable in the 2021 World Rally Championship, with an excellent 75% strike rate from 12 rallies. But in a scary proposition for its rivals, the Japanese marque had built a car for the final year of the previous regulations set which it believes was much faster and could feasibly have crushed the opposition completely. Here the story of its mothballed world-beater
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