In the last stage of the season, riders competed in 22 speed stages in a total distance of 304 kilometers (km). Evans took the lead in the second stage on Friday and kept the lead until the end of the rally on Sunday morning Latvian time. It should be noted that Evans showed the fastest time in only four “dopes”.
At the finish line of the rally, only the crews prepared by this season’s champion team “Toyota Gazoo Racing” were on the podium. Evans climbed to the top step by one minute and 17.7 seconds ahead of the eight-time world champion, the French Sebastien Ogier, who no longer competes in all stages of the season. The third place was won by Finland’s Kalle Rovanpera, who this season retained the honor of world champion for the second year in a row.
Japan rally standings
This is Evans’ eighth career win and third this season. With this success, Evans also secured the title of world runner-up.
The course of the competition was largely determined by heavy rain, fog and a very slippery track. Several drivers made mistakes or crashed on Friday. But Evans was able to adjust his speed under the caution to hold on to the lead.
Among the drivers of the Hyundai Shell Mobis team, Finland’s Esapeka Lapi was able to show the best result, who finished in fourth place and was able to keep the home team Takamoto Katsuta (Toyota Gazoo Racing) behind him, who despite winning 10 stages had to settle for fifth position due to Friday’s accident . On the other hand, Estonian Ots Tanak took care of the highest result – 6th place – for the “M-Sport Ford” team, for whom this was the last race as part of the British team, because next season he will return behind the wheel of a “Hyundai” car.
This season, three pilots managed to win three rallies – champion Rovanper, silver medal winner Evans and Ogier, who did not start all season.
But the success in the remaining four stages was split in half by the third and fourth place winners in the season – Thierry Neville (“Hyundai Shell Mobis”) and Tanak, respectively.
As a result, victories were shared by five drivers in a total of 13 rallies of the season.
2023 WRC season standings in drivers’ standings
What happened in the 2023 WRC season
2023 WRC season standings in the team standings
The next WRC season will start on the last weekend of January, from January 25 to 28, when the world championship season will traditionally begin with the legendary Monte Carlo Rally.
In 2024, Latvia will also host the WRC stage for the first time, hosting the world championship from July 18 to 21. It is expected that the fast roads of Latvia will be a challenge for the participants, among whom could be the 2022 European vice-champion crew Mārtiņš Sesks/Renārs Francis.