'Incredible' Evans wins Rally Finland to close gap on Ogier

Jyväskylä (Finland) (AFP) –


British driver Elfyn Evans won Rally Finland on Sunday to close the gap on Sebastien Ogier in the overall standings but refused to entertain the prospect of being crowned world champion.

Evans now trails seven-time world champion Ogier by just 24 points with two races of the season remaining after grabbing control of the rally on Saturday.

The Frenchman, who picked up a bizarre penalty on Saturday night for not fastening his helmet strap correctly, was fifth in the race.

"To be honest, I don't think too much about the title," said 32-year-old Evans who won 10 of the 19 stages in Finland, widely regarded as the fastest event on the calendar.

"As I said after the Greece race, it was mathematical. Now it's perhaps a little more realistic.

"All we have to worry about is our performance on the next two rallies."

Toyota driver Evans became only the second Briton to win the Finland race, finishing 14.1 sec ahead of two-time winner Ott Tanak with Craig Breen third.

"We had a good position on the road on Friday and then took the lead on Saturday," added Welsh driver Evans who added five bonus points to his total from the weekend in the final day's Power Stage.

"I'm really happy to be able to give the team (who are based in Jyvaskyla) a victory in their national rally."

Toyota boss Jari-Matti Latvala hailed Evans for an "incredible job".

"He wasn't necessarily the favourite for this race but he proved that he was the fastest man of the weekend."

Ogier, also in a Toyota, will still hope to secure his eighth world title in the remaining races in Spain and Italy, but cannot afford any errors after Evans's masterclass in Finland.

"The only bad result here would have been to score no points," said Ogier who collected 10 points from the race.

To have been crowned world champion in the heart of the Finnish forests, would have taken "a great combination of circumstances", he added.

Ogier remains favourite to wrap up the title in Spain from October 14-17 just as he did in 2014 and 2016.