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WRC Rally Finland

Neuville: Not possible to catch WRC Finland leader Evans on pure performance

Thierry Neuville believes it is not possible to catch Rally Finland leader Elfyn Evans on "pure performance" after a dominant display from his World Rally Championship title rival.

Thierry Neuville, Martijn Wydaeghe, Hyundai World Rally Team Hyundai i20 N Rally1

The Hyundai driver closed to within 6.9s of Evans after claiming three stage wins on Friday afternoon, but on Saturday morning Neuville struggled in tricky wet conditions.

Evans fought back claiming all four stages to extend his overall advantage over Neuville to 17.7s as the Belgian was unable to match the pace of the Toyota.

Neuville came close to beating Evans in stage 12, missing out by 0.4s, but in the other three tests Evans excelled.

It has resulted in the Belgian downplaying his chances of claiming a maiden Rally Finland victory.

“From pure performance, it's not possible [to catch Evans],” said Neuville.

“I don’t know even if in the dry we would have been faster, but it is clear that sometimes we just miss traction. In the dry it would have been a bit better in general. It is what it is.

“I will not catch 17 seconds like this. When you are [in a] fight like this and you are that much on the limit everywhere, if there is a bit of a balance of performance you would go a bit faster here and there, but we are never capable of going faster.

“We were one time close in a stage but the other times he killed us.”

Thierry Neuville, Martijn Wydaeghe, Hyundai World Rally Team Hyundai i20 N Rally1

Thierry Neuville, Martijn Wydaeghe, Hyundai World Rally Team Hyundai i20 N Rally1

Photo by: Austral / Hyundai Motorsport

When asked if settling for second was not a bad option given championship leader Kalle Rovanpera has retired from the event, he added: “We are going to keep the pressure on, the water could change.”

Evans’ clean sweep of the morning loop was more stage wins than he has secured in the previous eight WRC events this season.

The 2021 Rally Finland winner felt the conditions played into his favour, in addition to a strong feeling behind the wheel of his GR Yaris that he's experienced since the start of the rally.

“Everything has been working well in the car. The feeling we have is obviously delivering times so we are just getting on with it,” said Evans.

“It seems like we are able to do quite okay in it [the rain], it seems to suit us.”

Four more stages await the crews this afternoon.

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