Elfyn Evans and co-driver Scott Martin after guiding their Toyota to victory at Rally Sweden
Torsby (Sweden) (AFP) - Welsh driver Elfyn Evans completed a flag to flag victory in the Rally Sweden on Sunday as world champion Ott Tanak picked up his first points for Hyundai after his opening crash in Monte Carlo.
This was Evans' second career victory, on only his second rally since leaving Ford for Toyota.
And it drew him level with Belgian Thierry Neuville atop the world championships after the second of the 13-rally season.
"Fantastic result after a great weekend. The team gave us everything we needed," said the 31-year-old who won the Rally of Wales in 2017 for Ford.
"It's never easy settling into a new team but these guys (Toyota) have made that job very, very easy," Evans added after climbing down from the roof of his car to greet his father Gwyndaf, himself a former British rally champion.
Evans said he did not take any "chances" on Sunday, where he came sixth in the 21.19km Power Stage to secure his win.
"It looked really tricky, it was too on edge to take any chances," he explained.
Tänak was relieved to finish second, just 12.7sec adrift.
"After Monte-Carlo, it was important for us to complete the full event, to get some kilometres in the car, and to get some points on the board. We weren’t able to compete at the sharp end, but we are making good progress," the Estonian said.
-- Teenager wins power stage --
Evans' teenaged Toyota teammate Kalle Rovanperä pipped six-time former champion Sebastien Ogier for an impressive third.
The 19-year-old, son of former driver Harri Rovanperä, also picked up five precious championship points by winning the final power stage.
Neuville had dropped from fourth to sixth overnight and explained he had gone for points and damage limitation Sunday, picking up four points on the power stage.
"The conditions were incredibly tricky, just like they have been the entire weekend. It has been a tough rally, but we couldn’t have done much more," he said.
This second leg of the World Rally Championship was drastically shortened to nine specials from 21 due to a lack of snow caused by unseasonably mild weather.
The next date on the WRC calendar is the picturesque Mexican rally at Guanajuato in the country's north with mountains and shale roads on the menu on March 12-15.