Welsh­man vows to strike back de­spite

Motor Sport News - - Front Page - By David Evans

Elfyn Evans has vowed to get his World Rally Cham­pi­onship ca­reer back on track af­ter be­ing dropped from the M-sport World Rally Team for this sea­son.

In­stead of com­pet­ing along­side Mads Ost­berg in the front­line team, Evans will drive the Cum­brian squad’s Ford Fi­esta R5 on a part-pro­gramme through 2016. Team prin­ci­pal Mal­colm Wil­son has al­ready made clear, how­ever, that he in­tends to run the Welsh­man in a Fi­esta RS WRC on some events this sea­son.

Talk­ing to Mo­tor­sport News for the first time since news of his de­mo­tion late last year, Evans said: “Ob­vi­ously this isn’t what I wanted for this year. It’s a tough one to swal­low, but the im­por­tant thing is that I’m still in the World Rally Cham­pi­onship.

“This is a bump in the road. Ev­ery­body has tough times in their ca­reer – un­less your name is Se­bastien and you’re French – and this is my tough time. I’ll deal with it and be back.”

Evans has been re­placed by Eric Camilli, who was re­leased from his Toy­ota Mo­tor­sport con­tract to join M-sport for 2016.

Evans added: “I felt I did ev­ery­thing in my power and to the best of my abil­ity and to get judged on some­thing which didn’t ac­tu­ally make that much dif­fer­ence was tough.

“I was shocked by the de­ci­sion [not to take me], to be hon­est. I’m con­fi­dent I can do the job on all sur­faces and I think Rally GB proved that. Peo­ple’s per­cep­tion wasn’t 100 per cent cor­rect about that event.”

Evans starts his pro­gramme in a works R5 car on the Monte Carlo Rally later this month and is ex­pected to con­test round two in Swe­den as well.

“Monte’s quite a tricky event,” said Evans. “And it’s one you can’t re­ally af­ford to sit out. I’m def­i­nitely look­ing for­ward to get­ting back there and get­ting the sea­son started again.”

Evans is de­ter­mined to change peo­ple’s view of him as a per­son and a driver this sea­son.

“I’ve learned some hard lessons in the last cou­ple of years,” said Evans. “I’ve been sur­prised at the way some of the things I didn’t ex­pect to make a dif­fer­ence re­ally did make a dif­fer­ence. For sure, peo­ple are go­ing to see a change in me this year. Like I said, I didn’t agree with the de­ci­sion, I don’t agree with the de­ci­sion and my only pri­or­ity right now is to get my­self back in the World Rally Car as soon as pos­si­ble.

“I’m not about to start pin­point­ing the ex­act ar­eas where the changes will come, but I don’t think I have al­ways been per­ceived in the best or right way in how I come across. Maybe I have been guilty of be­ing too mod­est in the pub­lic eye, but I will change. Trust me, deep down, I have the con­fi­dence I can do this.”

Evans’ ex­act pro­gramme for 2016 has yet to be con­firmed – but he’s ready to fight for as much seat time and op­por­tu­nity as he can this year.

“I don’t know what Mal­colm [Wil­son] has planned for me this sea­son,” he said, “but I’ll be do­ing ev­ery­thing I can to be in the car as of­ten as pos­si­ble. There’s been some talk of some BRC out­ings, noth­ing’s been de­cided, but that’s seat time.”

Wil­son told MN: “We def­i­nitely want Elfyn around and we want him in the car. It’s pos­si­ble we could switch driv­ers around in the main team and he could be in there [in the fac­tory WRC car] on some events [this sea­son].”

Evans has com­pleted a hand­ful of miles in the evo­lu­tion ver­sion of the Fi­esta R5, but will test the car in France the week­end be­fore Monte Carlo.

“I drove the car far enough to get a good feel­ing,” Evans said. “From what the guys have told me, it’s a good step.”

An­other change to Evans’ set-up this sea­son is his co-driver. Craig Parry takes over from Dan Bar­ritt.

Evans ad­mit­ted the change wasn’t ideal, but added that he had no doubts about Parry’s abil­ity in the car.

“I’m not un­der any il­lu­sions,” said Evans. “Dan and I worked to­gether for three years and made great progress. From the start of last year, we gelled 100 per cent and it’s the work we did on the pa­cenotes that will make this change a lit­tle bit eas­ier and speed it on. But I know we’re not go­ing to do three year’s work in one event. It won’t be like hav­ing Dan in the car, but that’s not to de­cry Craig, who’s a great co-driver.”

Bar­ritt re­mained tight-lipped on his plans for the fu­ture, but he is be­lieved to have ac­cepted a job with Toy­ota Ga­zoo Rac­ing.

Bar­ritt said: “I’m not in a po­si­tion to talk about the fu­ture, but one thing is for sure: there was noth­ing in any way ac­ri­mo­nious in the de­ci­sion for Elfyn and I to go our sep­a­rate ways. We parted on very good terms. I got an op­por­tu­nity else­where and cir­cum­stances led to me mov­ing away – I ab­so­lutely wish him and Craig all the best.”

Se­cond Monte for Lappi

Evans was “shocked” and dis­agrees with the de­ci­sion to de­mote him to WRC2

Wil­son (middle) hasn’t ruled out that Elfyn could be in a WR Car for se­lected events this year

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