Hyundai is well placed to end its podium drought on Secto Automotive Rally Finland ahead of the final leg on Sunday, as Ott Tänak and Craig Breen chase Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT’s Elfyn Evans for victory in the event’s 70thanniversary edition.
Tänak ended the second day just 9.1s down on Evans with four stages still to run on Sunday. Meanwhile Breen, who led overnight after the first leg, has slipped to 19.5s behind the leader and trails his fellow Hyundai Shell Mobis World Rally Team driver by 10.4s.
But with a gap of 25.3s from Breen to Esapekka Lappi, who is running fourth in his RTE-Motorsport Toyota Yaris WRC, the odds are strong that Hyundai will gain at least one podium finish – with either Tänak or Breen perhaps even standing on the top step come Sunday afternoon.
“The road changed and I could manage the car better,” said Tänak of his Saturday afternoon charge that led to a hat-trick of stage victories. “It’s been a big step for the team and it’s good to be on the pace with Hyundai in Finland.”
Breen was disappointed to slip away from the battle to the lead, but still took positives from his strong performance. “I think it’s been a reasonably good day, we have to be pleased,” he said. “For the third time in a row, we have the lead of an event and for whatever reason we just can’t put it together. Just to be amongst the top people here is something special, but it hurts a little just not to be able to get that last bit.”
Breen and Tänak took a pair of stage wins apiece in the first leg on Friday, before a storming effort from Evans into darkness on the Oittila stage thrust the Welshman into contention. Evans took the lead from Breen during a run of four stage victories on Saturday morning, before Tänak hit back with his hat-trick. Evans responded with the fastest time on the penultimate test, before he and Tänak managed a dead-heat on the short Harju test in Jyväskylä. The rally is now finely poised ahead of what should be a gripping final day.