At just 24, Elfyn Evans is one of rallying’s top prospects for future success. The young Welshman, whose father Gwyndaf Evans was British Rally Champion in 1996, has already underlined his huge potential by winning last season’s FIA WRC Academy as well as the R2 title in the British Rally Championship and the UK Fiesta Sport Trophy.
As a result of those notable successes, Evans has now graduated to the WRC2 category in the full FIA World Rally Championship with the crack Qatar M-Sport World Rally Team and thus he starts next week’s Wales Rally GB (14-17 November) as one of the firm favourites for some welcome home success.
Evans has taken two top six finishes already in 2013 in previous WRC rounds held overseas, and now he’s targeting another top ten finish in Wales as well a class victory in the fiercely-fought WRC 2 category.
“I am certainly hoping for WRC2 honours on Wales Rally GB,” he admitted. “The new Ford Fiesta R5 has shown great performance so far this year and it should be very competitive in the forests.”
With a proven car plus some local knowledge, Evans knows what to expect, though many of the special stages included in this year’s refreshed Wales Rally GB are new even to someone who grew up locally in Machynlleth.
“I’m not familiar at all with some of the stages like Penmachno and Gywdyr in Snowdonia, whereas others such as Dyfi and Dfynant are ones on which I have competed before. I enjoy them and seem to go well on them, so those should be good,” he grinned.
Moreover, with the UK’s round of the FIA World Rally Championship now based at the new purpose-built Service Park in north Wales, Evans is confident that the organiser’s hopes of refreshing the event will deliver serious results.
While some drivers don’t like what they see as irrelevant side shows, Evans also applauds the addition of some short, spectator-friendly stages at Chirk Castle and Kinmel Park.
‘I don’t think its right to say they are not challenging as they are challenging in their own right,” he argued. “They don’t of course offer the same challenges as forest stages, but some of the most memorable moments on the old RAC Rally always seemed to happen in these kind of stages. Just ask my father who had a big accident at Chatsworth Park one year! They impose their own challenge and are an important part of the rally.”
While clearly excited to be competing so close to home, Evans denied there’s any extra pressure on him to perform. “I will be focussed on the event like all the others; the home support will be nice but it will be important to focus and do the job. We are here to learn and I need to make the most of these events to improve for the future.”
Evans is obviously hoping to graduate to a full-blown World Rally Car in the not too distant future and, perhaps, score what would be a dream Wales Rally GB victory in the coming years. “I am learning all the time with the aim to keep improving,” he explained. “So long as I can keep doing that over the next couple of years, we won’t be too far away, hopefully. We have shown reasonable pace in WRC2 this year, so as long as we get the right backing and opportunities in the forthcoming seasons there is no reason it can’t happen pretty soon.”
Wales Rally GB