Evans powers to 4th on Mexican debut

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Evans’ measured approach paid dividends as the rookie finished the day in an impressive fourth place.

There were mixed fortunes for M-Sport’s Elfyn Evans and Mikko Hirvonen as Rally Mexico embarked on the first full day of competition today. Evans’ measured approach paid dividends as the rookie finished the day in an impressive fourth place. Unfortunately, there was disappointment for his team mate. Having been in the fight for the lead, Hirvonen was forced to retire with an electrical issue on SS8.

Following yesterday’s opening super special, the rally resumed with ten gravel tests in the mountains north of Guanajuato. Making the most of their development year, Evans and co-driver Daniel Barritt had the better of the tricky Mexican stages. Whereas others faltered, Evans kept his Ford Fiesta RS WRC well clear of the potential dangers.

Elfyn Evans and Daniel Barrit, M-Sport Ford Fiesta WRC
Elfyn Evans and Daniel Barrit, M-Sport Ford Fiesta WRC

Photo by: XPB Images

Adopting a measured approach on what is his first encounter of the high-altitude speed tests, the Welshman improved his technique, and with it his speed. Learning how to best adapt to the unfamiliar conditions, the 25-year-old propelled himself into the top-five – within touching distance of the podium and with the potential for further gains as the event continues.

In the sister Fiesta RS WRC, Hirvonen looked at one behind the wheel. Straight on the pace, the Finn set a string of consistently competitive times over the morning loop to keep the rally lead well within his grasp.

Embarking on the second pass, he and co-driver Jarmo Lehtinen looked set to challenge further. Having made some positive set-up changes, the Finns had the better of their nearest rivals – reducing the gap between them and second place to just five seconds. Unfortunately it was not to be and after reporting a high temperature on the IDU (injector driver unit), their day came to an end midway through the second pass of ‘Las Minas’ (SS8). Although Hirvonen now finds himself in a distant 12th position, he has proved that he is more than capable of challenging for rally wins. With more than 250 competitive kilometres left to run, there is still all to play for and the determined Finn will be looking to climb the leader-board when he resumes under Rally 2 regulations tomorrow.

Elfyn Evans (4th) said:

“It’s been a better afternoon in terms of speed, but there is still work to be done in some areas. The good thing is that we know what we need to work on for the rest of the rally – whilst hopefully not taking too many risks and keeping this position.

“I admit that I hadn’t really looked at any times so it is a bit of a surprise to find myself in fourth position! That said, I don’t think we need to take too much notice of that. For us, it is just a case of concentrating on the job that we need to do tomorrow.”

Mikko Hirvonen (12th) said:

“We were having a really good rally so it is really disappointing that today had to end the way that it did. We had made some changes to the set-up in service and I was very happy with the handling of the car – I think you can see that from the times we were setting as we were beginning to really close in on second place. Unfortunately, it was not to be. We had a high temperature reading on the IDU [injector driver unit] before SS8, and that was where our day came to an end. Tomorrow is another day so we just have to see what that brings.”

Team Principal, Malcolm Wilson OBE, said:

“It was great to see Mikko [Hirvonen] fighting for the lead, so it is obviously very disappointing that the day ended the way that it did for him. He was putting in a really strong performance and it’s a real shame for the whole team.

“We’ve seen a really solid drive from Elfyn [Evans] and he’s ended the day in a really positive position. Hopefully he can maintain the same pace he has shown today and stay clear of trouble on what will be a very difficult day tomorrow.”

M-Sport World Rally Team

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About this article
Series WRC
Article type Stage reports
Tags elfyn evans, m-sport, malcolm wilson, mexican, mikko hirvonen

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