M-Sport Ford World Rally team’s Elfyn Evans and Scott Martin were denied a well-deserved victory at this weekend’s Tour de Corse, picking up a puncture through the final stage and having to settle for third place overall.

The British pairing were the ones to beat and showed true class behind the wheel of their EcoBoost-powered Ford Fiesta WRC.

Displaying all the characteristics of a deserving winner, Evans had the speed and the determination; but was just missing a little bit of luck through the final kilometres.

Having lost time in the closing stage, he and Martin had fallen 4.5 seconds behind eventual winner Thierry Neuville. But the pairing started the day in a positive frame of mind – confident in the knowledge they had the better of their rival throughout the weekend.

Starting as he meant to go on, Evans set a sensational time through the opening speed test – 8.8 seconds quicker than anyone else and a full 16 seconds quicker than Neuville.

The Belgian had no hope of matching the Welshman on speed alone, but fate played a hand through the final stage.

Picking up a puncture on the line, it was heart-breaking to watch the time slip away, relegating Evans to third place.

But despite the disappointment, the Dovenby Hall-based team remain extremely proud and will take consolation from the rally-winning pace displayed here in Corsica.

Elsewhere, Teemu Suninen and Marko Salminen were also showcasing some impressive speed.

Contesting the Corsican fixture for the first time with a world rally car, the Finnish pairing were under strict instruction to finish this event and had to control their pace through some of the trickier sections.

In the wider, cleaner sections however, the young Finn was able to showcase his potential. Setting two third fastest stage times through the final stages, Suninen secured fifth place as well as three additional points in the power stage.

Team principal, Richard Millener, said: “This one is pretty hard to take.

"Elfyn and Scott were the fastest crew out there this weekend and have shown everyone what they and the Fiesta are capable of.

“That first stage was simply sensational and I don’t think anyone can say that they didn’t deserve this victory.

“To lose it on the last stage was a bitter blow for the whole team, but we need to look to the positives – and there were a lot of those this weekend.

"We’ve secured our second consecutive podium and the team have made some incredible steps forward with the Fiesta.

“Everyone is working flat-out to ensure we can continue to fight for the top results – and clearly we can!”