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Evans wins in Finland to keep alive title hopes, Ogier fifth

Evans wins in Finland to keep alive title hopes, Ogier fifth

FILE PHOTO: FIA World Rally Championship - Rally Sweden - Second Round - Torsby, Sweden - February 16, 2020. Elfyn Evans of Britain poses. Micke Fransson/TT News Agency/via REUTERS

Welshman Elfyn Evans won Rally Finland on Sunday to keep alive his world championship hopes and cut Toyota team mate Sebastien Ogier's overall lead to 24 points with two rounds remaining.

Evans secured his fifth career win by finishing 14.1 seconds ahead of Hyundai's Estonian Ott Tanak, the 2019 world champion who had been chasing his third successive win in the gravel event.

Ireland's Craig Breen, the leader after the first leg, was third for Hyundai with Finnish driver Esapekka Lappi fourth in a privately-entered Toyota and Ogier, who had been 44 points clear, fifth in the fastest round on the calendar.

"It feels pretty special to win for the team on its home rally," said Evans, now the only driver who can deny Ogier an eighth championship with a maximum 60 points left to be won.

"It’s a positive result in terms of the championship. The drivers’ title is still a long shot for me but we’ll keep giving our best on every event."

Evans took five stage wins in a row on Friday and Saturday on the high-speed gravel roads around Jyvaskyla, where the Toyota rally team are based, to move from fifth to first.

He gained five bonus points for winning the final Power Stage, ahead of Tanak and Lappi.

Toyota's Takamoto Katsuta took two extra points and Breen one while Ogier failed to add to his tally.

The Frenchman had been given a one-minute penalty and fined 800 euros (US$930) on Saturday for not fastening his helmet strap correctly.

"Today for us was all about trying to get some more points in the Power Stage. Unfortunately, we had a problem just after the start of the stage, so we couldn’t set a good time," said the Frenchman.

"This was not our rally but that’s how it is sometimes. We have to move on. We are still in a good position in the championship."

Ogier can wrap up the title on asphalt in Spain on Oct 17 if results go his way. The season ends at Italy's Monza circuit in November.

Toyota's lead over Hyundai in the manufacturers’ championship grew to 61 points.

Rally Finland was not held last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Source: Reuters

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