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The opening two tests of the new WRC season – Thursday night’s Rallye Monte-Carlo stages south of Gap – will be the most complicated of the year, according to new Toyota Gazoo Racing signing Elfyn Evans. The Welshman is one of seven factory drivers starting the French Alps event in a new World Rally Car for the first time and the combination of winter conditions and running in the dark make the Malijai - Puimichel and Bayons - Bréziers stages tougher than most. “Thursday’s a tricky day for the opening day of the season,” said Evans. “There’s a fair bit of waiting around and then we’re over the ramp and away and into those two stages. “It’s a new car, in the dark, nobody knows if it’s wet, dry, freezing, how much ice there is. Everything’s new – including that first stage. Those are probably the two stages in the most difficult circumstances of the season.” Asked what he was expecting from this year’s Monte, Evans replied: “Who knows what the weather’s going to do? This is the Monte. Anything can happen. That snow we had over the weekend could all be gone by the start, or it could freeze, then snow some more. “There’s no point worrying about it. OK, it’ll be a bit of a stress when it comes to picking the tyres on Thursday night, but once we’ve made the call then we need to chill and just get on with it.” Evans admitted his second test aboard the Toyota Yaris was more complicated than his initial running last month. “The weather changed a lot during the day,” he said. “We started out in the dry and then it rained really heavily and then, when it was going dark it started to snow. “Normally, you would prefer to have consistency so you can feel the changes you’re making with a new car, but that wasn’t possible. Equally, it’s really valuable for me to feel how a new car like the Yaris was feeling as the conditions evolved and changed. Evans starts his first season – and his first WRC round in a World Rally Car – outside of the M-Sport Ford World Rally Team and the former Rally GB winner is optimistic. “I feel,” he said, “I’m still on an upward trend with my driving. I want to continue on that upward trend, keep getting faster and make the most out of the next two years with Toyota.”
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