2020 Rally Sweden: Evans on Brink of Victory After Stunning Saturday

by Steven Batey

Elfyn Evans is on the verge of his first win in the FIA World Rally Championship for over two years after building up a 17.2 seconds lead on Rally Sweden with one stage remaining.

The Welshman won three of the four stages on Saturday to double his 8.5 seconds overnight advantage and also survived a nervous moment on the second run through Nyckelvattnet after his Yaris slid wide after heavy breaking.

Behind, Ott Tänak is his nearest challenger after the Estonian continued his trouble-free but somewhat quiet weekend in the leading Hyundai. The defending champion now has a 11.6 seconds margin to arch-rival Sebastien Ogier.

Photo Credit: Fabien Dufour Worldwide copyright: Hyundai Motorsport GmbH

Ogier is only 0.5 seconds ahead of teammate Kalle Rovanepra, with the pair having been separated by just a few seconds all day.

The Frenchman had closed the youngster’s overnight gap on the opening two stages of the day to move into third, but Rovanpera responded on the next test to regain the position before Ogier then leapfrogged him back into third on the day-ending Torsby super-special.

Another battle continues for fifth, with Esapekka Lappi continuing to hold off championship leader Thierry Neuville. Just 4.5 seconds separate them and the Belgian was the only man apart from Evans to win a stage on Saturday.

News also broke during Saturday that tomorrow will now only feature one stage, with the first run through Likenäs being cancelled by the event organisers to ensure the Power Stage will not be damaged due to the lack of snow that has affected the event this weekend.

The WRC runners on the leaderboard are rounded out by Craig Breen, who is now set for a lonely end to the event after lying 10.5 seconds adrift of Neuville and 25.1 ahead of Teemu Suninen behind him and Takamoto Katsuta who sits ninth overall.

WRC3 also features a close battle, with new leader Jari Huttunen only 3.5 seconds ahead of Emil Lindholm.

The pair fought closely throughout Saturday, with the Hyundai driver making the most of his stage winning time on Nyckelvattnet to ensure he leads going into Sunday. They lie tenth and eleventh overall.

Mads Østberg looked set for a close fight with Ole Christian Veiby after the opening stage on Saturday where Veiby took a dominating victory, but a hattrick of stage wins by Østberg made sure he extended his lead at the top of the class to 15.8 seconds.

Tom Kristensson continued where he left off on Friday and now leads the opening round of the 2020 Junior WRC by a huge 41.8 seconds ahead of Mārtiņš Sesks, although Lauri Joona is less than ten seconds adrift in third.

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