The Briton, co-driven by Phil Pugh, fought off the challenge of nine other rising star rally drivers, each armed with an identical M-Sport Ford Fiesta R2 fitted with Pirelli control tyres, to claim his second category win in 2012, a result that puts him at the top of the drivers’ standings after three events.
Evans began the final day with an advantage out front of 1m10.1s and admitted to driving with plenty of caution over Saturday’s closing five stages. “It’s a special event and I’m really pleased to have won,” said the 23-year-old. “Today was just about getting through, looking after the car and making no mistakes. It’s fantastic and it’s been another good learning experience.”
Swede Pontus Tidemand finished second after going fastest in class on all five stages today to reignite his title bid with Brendan Reeves clinching the final podium place as close rival Timo van der Marel went off the road early in the Ouninpohja stage.
Reeves lost time with a few half spins this morning but moved back ahead of van der Marel when the Dutchman was slowed by an intercom failure. Van der Marel started the stage 3.4s behind Reeves only to hit trouble, leaving Reeves to take third. “It was such a good race the whole time, we had a couple of stage wins and a podium but it sucks that Timo has gone off,” said the Australian.
Spain’s Jose Suarez survived a couple of off-road moments to finish fourth with Briton John MacCrone fifth and American Chris Duplessis sixth. Northern Ireland’s Alastair Fisher, who led the WRC Academy standings prior to the event, restarted under Rally 2 rules this morning following his exit on Friday morning and finished ninth behind Portugal’s Joao Silva and South African Ashley Haigh-Smith.