(Reuters) – Elfyn Evans opened his account with Toyota by taking a dominant win in Rally Sweden on Sunday to lead the world championship for the first time.
The Welshman, who led from the opening stage of a winter event shortened due to a lack of snow and unusually mild conditions, beat reigning world champion Ott Tanak by 12.7 seconds.
The victory was the second of Evans’s WRC career while second place provided a first podium for Tanak since the Estonian switched from Toyota to Hyundai at the end of last year.
Young Finn Kalle Rovanpera took third place for Toyota, ahead of six-times world champion team mate Sebastien Ogier, after winning the final power stage to collect five bonus points.
After two races of the 13-round championship, Evans and Hyundai’s Thierry Neuville are tied on 42 points with Evans leading on a countback.
Neuville, who claimed four bonus points from the power stage, was sixth in Sweden while Evans finished third in the Monte Carlo opener won by the Belgian.
Toyota lead the manufacturers’ standings with 73 points to Hyundai’s 63.
Reporting by Alan Baldwin in London, editing by Ed Osmond