Elfyn Evans faced a final day dilemma as he chased a podium at last weekend’s Neste Rally Finland.
The Welshman triumphed in a thrilling fight with Juho Hänninen and Teemu Suninen to finish second, matching his career-best result in Argentina in April.
He had to balance aggression with caution during Sunday’s final four speed tests to ensure he didn’t throw away vital manufacturers’ championship points for M-Sport World Rally Team.
After Sébastien Ogier’s crash and Ott Tänak’s time-consuming puncture on Friday, Evans headed the M-Sport attack and knew he couldn’t risk all and jeopardise the team’s points lead in the standings.
“I think there was an element that I was going to go for it, but there was a bit of a difficult situation. It’s very important for M-Sport to win the manufacturers’ title this year and I think they wanted to make sure they collected as many points as possible,” Evans said.
“So for sure I wanted to go for it, but it wasn’t going to be as crazy as the attack I had in Argentina. I left literally nothing at the top of El Condor when I had the chance of that win, whereas today I tried to be a bit more smart and drive well and straight.”
Evans overturned a 0.9sec deficit in the final Power Stage to pip Hänninen by 0.3sec, netting a result that was far from his mind after a difficult pre-event and opening day.
His test was scrapped after Ogier crashed and the car could not be repaired and an ill-handling Fiesta on Friday meant he ended the opening day seventh.
“The balance of the car in shakedown was not what I’m used to having,” he said. “For some reason I had a lot of understeer and we never found a way to really cure it.
“That carried on into the first day and with so many stages in one loop without service there was little we could do. Come the end of Friday, it was quite a frustrating situation for us to be in with things not really going that well.
“Then on Saturday, on the longer stages which suit us a bit better, and drier conditions, we were able to get some good temperature into the tyres and they started working really well and we started climbing up the order.”
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