A calculated drive in Turkey earned Elfyn Evans and Scott Martin their second win of the season as well as the championship lead.
Rally Turkey was all about fortunes changing in the blink of an eye! The 38.15-kilometre Cetibeli stage on the final day was one of the longest and most challenging stages of the year, and it proved to be the turning point in the overall outcome of the rally. Taking advantage of the punctures his competitors suffered on the Cetibeli stage, Elfyn Evans managed to overcome the odds and took home a commanding win (third win of his career, second for Toyota), 35.2 seconds ahead of Hyundai's Thierry Neuville (second) and another 24.2 seconds ahead of Hyundai driver Sebastien Loeb (third overall).
While most drivers suffered punctures during the first run of the Cetibeli stage – including frontrunners Thierry Neuville (Hyundai), Sebastien Ogier (Toyota), and third-placed Sebastien Loeb (Hyundai) – Evans and Martin played the game patiently and, instead of going all-out, took a different approach, staying in the middle of the course to avoid any damage due to rocky terrain. The approach paid off and Evans finished the stage with a 47-second lead over the erstwhile leaders.
After a quick wheel change, both Neuville and Ogier went all-out to finish the first Cetibeli run. However, the latter paid a heavy price in the subsequent run, as his Toyota Yaris WRC started emitting smoke. And with the engine check light going off on the dash, Ogier and co-driver Julien Ingrassia were forced to retire.
Neuville's teammate and previous round winner Ott Tanak too had suffered some steering issues on Saturday, due to which he had to restart well out of points. Therefore, Hyundai's team strategy changed to salvaging maximum points in the Wolf Power Stage, which worked out well. Neuville managed to top the power stage and earned five points, followed by Tanak in second who got four points. Third Hyundai driver Loeb too managed to get one point, clinching the fifth spot in the power stage.
Thanks to Ogier's retirement, Evans now sits on top of the WRC leaderboard with 97 points. Ogier, meanwhile, is now in second place, with 79 points. Hyundai's Tanak and Toyota's Kalle Rovanperä are tied for the third spot, with 70 points each. Toyota leads the manufacturers' fight, with a slim nine-point lead over Hyundai.