Craig Breen and Ott Tanak lie first and second after the opening day’s six stages, although Elflyn Evans remains within touching distance of the lead pair.

Directly behind Evans in fourth is Esapekka Lappi in a Yaris World Rally Car that is being run by RTE-Motorsport, and in fifth the second Toyota works driver, Kalle Rovanpera

Many had predicted Rally Finland to be a shoo-in for Toyota as their base is only a stone’s throw from the host city of Jyväskylä, plus they have won the ‘gravel Grand Prix’ on each of the last four occasions.

For all their best endeavours, Hyundai by comparison have never excelled on the fast and flowing Scandinavian roads.

“Like it often is here at Rally Finland, it’s a very close fight at the moment,” said Latvala, who triumphed on home soil in 2009 with M-Sport Ford before going on to record back-to-back wins with Volkswagen Motorsport in 2014 and 2015.

“Our rivals are certainly bringing a tougher challenge now on these fast roads.

“But in this last stage tonight, in the darkness, our drivers did an excellent job and that has helped to make it even closer going into tomorrow, when all of the leading cars will have similar road positions,” he added.

Despite enjoying their strongest start in Finland, Latvala’s counterpart at Hyundai is not allowing himself to get too carried away given the number of times this year already his drivers have been in winning positions only for human error or mechanical failure to deny them.

“Clearly, it has been a complicated day, but we have seen an incredible fight between all the crews,” said Andrea Adamo.

“We bring back a provisional 1-2 tonight which, all things considered, is a good start. We can see the battle is at the level of tenths rather than full seconds, so we must remain focused and well prepared.

“Overall, the level of competitiveness we have shown today makes me proud of our team and the job done to prepare for this rally,” added the Italian