Rally Finland king Elfyn Evans hoping to retain crown

Thursday 4th August 2022 11:15 am
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2022 FIA World Rally Championship / Round 07 / Rally Estonia 2022 / 13-17th July, 2022 // Worldwide Copyright: Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT
Elfyn Evans says winning in Finland last year was something “very special” (Toyota Gazoo Racing / McKlein )

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ELFYN Evans is looking forward to competing in Finland again at an event he describes as “definitely one of my favourite rallies on the calendar.

His Toyota Gazoo Racing World Rally Team will be racing on home soil at Rally Finland on 4-7 August, targeting another victory on the fastest round of the World Rally Championship season with its driver line-up of championship leader and hometown hero Kalle Rovanperä, his fellow Flying Finn Esapekka Lappi and defending event king Evans himself.

The Dolgellau driver said: “Finland is definitely one of my favourite rallies on the calendar, if not my favourite, and I’m really looking forward to it.

“There’s not many places where you have the same sensation driving a car as you do in Finland, so it’s always a highlight and to win there last year was something very special.

“This year it will be a new challenge with this new generation of cars.

“It’s an event where you really need to have good confidence in the car.

“Rally Estonia was a nice step forward for us and we will be working hard in the pre-event test to try and recreate the feeling we had on Finnish roads last year.”

The GR Yaris Rally1 Hybrid takes to its home roads around Jyväskylä having performed strongly so far in its debut season with victories in five of the last six events.

It has a tough act to follow though at Rally Finland, where its predecessor the Yaris WRC won all four editions held between 2017 and 2021.

A dominant display on the most recent round in Estonia on similarly fast roads provides the team with confidence, but a single pre-event test over the coming days will be crucial for tailoring the car setup to the specific characteristics of Finnish gravel stages.

The rally-mad Finnish public is expected to turn out in their numbers to cheer for Jyväskylä-born Rovanperä in particular following his outstanding form in 2022.

He increased his championship lead to 83 points with his fifth win in Estonia, but is taking nothing for granted as he looks to improve upon a challenging top-level debut on Rally Finland in 2021.

Lappi is also a local favourite, hailing from around an hour from the service park, and claimed his maiden FIA World Rally Championship victory on the event with TGR in 2017.

Evans meanwhile achieved an epic win at last year’s Rally Finland and finished a strong second last time out in Estonia, rising to third in the championship.

Renowned for its smooth and fast forest roads featuring numerous crests and jumps, Rally Finland is returning to its traditional summer date for the first time since 2019.

The rally begins with an extended version of the mixed-surface Harju stage in the centre of Jyväskylä, which is revisited in shorter form after Friday morning’s loop of two repeated stages to the north.

Another two stages to the west are run twice in the afternoon. Saturday as usual takes the crews south for four stages around Jämsä, each to be repeated after midday service. Sunday’s double loop pairs the Oittila stage with Ruuhimäki which once more hosts the rally-ending Power Stage.

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