By Gareth James
The Dolgellau ace will, like many of his fellow drivers, be making his debut on the event which has replaced Rally Sweden on the calendar due to COVID-19 issues.
Evans powered to an historic victory in Sweden last year but is relishing the chance to compete in Finland even if conditions are likely to be vastly different.
Amazing winter testing conditions today for @ElfynEvans and @scottmartinat as we look towards #ArcticRallyFinland ❄️😍#ToyotaGAZOORacing #PushingTheLimitsForBetter #YarisWRC #WRC pic.twitter.com/WoynxMEjPH
— Toyota GAZOO Racing WRT (@TGR_WRC) February 2, 2021
“Naturally, we want to strive for a similar result to Sweden last year, but we have to wait and see how things go,” said Evans, who finished runner-up in the championship to Toyota Gazoo Racing team-mate Sebastien Ogier last season.
“The conditions are likely to be different to what we’ve seen in Sweden in recent years, when there’s been very little ice or snow.
“So that’s been something to consider in our testing, where it’s been really cold. We’ve also had to adapt the setup for the new Pirelli tyre.
“Similar to Monte-Carlo we have no prior experience with the tyre, but it’s a bit more straightforward because we only have one choice for this rally, so we’ve been able to focus our efforts on that.
“Overall, the feeling is good and I’m looking forward to the rally.”
Evans going into the rally second in the standing after finishing runner-up to Ogier at the season opener in Monte Carlo in January.
The 32-year-old trails by 11 points after the Frenchman added to his record breaking eighth win on the Monte by picking up the extra five points for winning the power stage.
Born out of the Arctic Lapland Rally held in the area every January, the event will be based in Rovaniemi – capital of Finland’s northernmost region – with some stages taking place inside the Arctic Circle.
The location promises great winter rallying conditions, with frozen roads and high snow banks at the sides of the road, which drivers lean on to carry more speed through corners. Special studded tyres will bite into the icy surface to provide grip and some of the highest speeds of the entire season.
The rally will run to a condensed format with 10 stages providing a total of 251.08 competitive kilometres.
Following shakedown on Friday morning, the rally features a demanding start with two runs over the longest test of the rally, the 31.05-kilometre Sarriojärvi stage, with the second pass to take place in darkness.
Saturday is the longest day of the rally, with a loop of three stages to be repeated either side of mid-day service with another late finish.
The final day on Sunday consists of two passes over the Aittajärvi test, the latter as the Power Stage.