One of the guest drivers at the recent Rallyday was M-Sport’s WRC team driver Elfyn Evans.
With preparations for the forthcoming Wales Rally GB (October 4-7) in full swing, the recent Rallyday in the UK was a chance to find out the expectations of the 2017 rally winner, Elfyn Evans.
A resident in the Principality of Wales where the weather is notoriously unsettled, where wet and slimy conditions last year played strongly into the strengths of the tyres he used, what did Elfyn expect the weather would be like this year? Would it be dry or wet ?
Elfyn Evans: To be honest, I am hoping it is going to be dry, from our position on the road. But hoping is one thing, what will happen in reality is another.
I think it will be strange to see a full dry Rally GB. Obviously we've had really wet weather in the UK last week, but the coming week is forecast dry.
The roads had become so strong over the summer that the falling rain tended to run into the roadside ditches. So let's wait and see what happens.
Elfyn Evans in a relaxed mood at last week's Rallyday in the UK. Photo: Martin Holmes
MH: This year the route has several changes, are they good or bad?EE: It's always nice to see change. I would say it does get repetitive when the rallies go back to the same stages year on year. That said however, I think the character of Friday this year perhaps isn't as rewarding for the drivers as we've seen in the past.
The real drivers stages are in mid Wales on the second day. On the north Wales (first and final day) stages we lose the flowing nature of the stages, especially with the tarmac stretches which could become very dirty when cars cut the bends.
MH: What do you think of using portions of closed public road? Will this help the rally or make a distraction?EE: I think it has the potential to help, whether the configuration they've picked this year is purely for the use of it or whether it's genuinely to make up great stages.
I would have loved to see the (mid Wales) Dovey and Gartheiniog stages joined together to make one long test with only a very short link of tarmac in the middle, but sometimes really long stages do not really work.
For sure I can see from a media and fan perspective it's much more exciting to see more short stages than a very few number of long stages. But when you have stages with the character like you have in Dovey and Gartheiniog, I still think they would make a great test to have that as a long stage.
Elfyn Evans won last year's Wales Rally GB on DMack tyres.
MH: Looking back at last year (2017), what are your lasting memories of the event and the effect it had for you?EE: It was obviously a big relief to finally to get my first WRC win. We'd come close in Argentina earlier in the year where it was frustrating to lose out by such a fine margin (0.7 second!).
Obviously we had a different tyre to everybody else but that said, it wasn't completely straightforward. There was a case of managing the tyre.
We were on the limit on the wear on the Saturday’s 110km loop of stages, but we managed to make it work. It was obviously a great feeling to win at home in front of the family and friends and everything else.
MH: The mainstay of M-Sport over the past two seasons has been the presence of your teammate Sebastien Ogier. How has life been with Ogier?EE: It has been good. There's always something to learn from working with a five times World Champion. You always pick up something new from him almost every rally.
Often something small, but it's all in the fine details that add up to a lot. Things like the way that he handles his time management, or like the way he demands things!
Sometimes it comes with the privilege of his stature and his past experience, but for sure it has helped the team.
Elfyn Evans and his father, Gwyndaf, a former British Rally Champion.
MH: People were impressed the way you willingly sacrificed championship points and helped Sebastien in Turkey.EE: That was a difficult one! Essentially our rally was over on the Friday, so with that in mind we have to do what's in the best interests of the team.
I would hope on the last three remaining rounds that we can put ourselves in a stronger position in the championship. At the end of the day I'm employed by the team to drive and I have to respect their decisions.
MH: Finally, what do you expect is going to happen for you next year?EE: I don't know. Nothing's been decided yet. We've had great success with the M-Sport team. Obviously it would be great to continue that.
A few key players are still to make the decisions, or at least announce their decisions, so let's wait and see.
For me, for sure, I'm really hungry to carry on. 2018 has been a very difficult year for me and I'm keen to put that right in 2019.
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