Evans in control of WRC2 with new R5 Fiesta
Julien Maurin and Armin Kremer must have wondered what all the fuss was at the end of the opening stage last Thursday night. Elfyn Evans? Really? Nothing to worry about there. They’d both kicked him firmly into touch, the tune of a minute-plus.
Er… not quite. Driving nine miles with a front-left puncture was the reason the Welshman was ninth after his first stage in WRC2 in more than two years. Four fully inflated Michelins beneath him, he was almost half a minute faster than anybody else in stage two.
And he wasn’t beaten on a stage again until he suffered another puncture in SS9. By then he’d rebuilt a minute and a half lead over Kremer and the second deflation dropped him five seconds behind the German Skoda man. One stage later, he was 49s to the good again.
In short, Evans was epic. And so was the evolution of M-sport’s Ford Fiesta R5.
The Welshman, co-driven for the first time by Craig Parry, took a maximum points score from the opening WRC2 round, having controlled the rally throughout despite dropping four minutes with punctures. In more good news for Evans, he beat fancied Fabia R5 runner Esapekka Lappi by two minutes – the Finn wasn’t registered for points.
Kremer was classified second in WRC2, while Junior WRC champion Quentin Gilbert was third despite overheating issues aboard his Citroen DS 3 R5. Teemu Suninen was fourth, with Quentin Giordano fifth despite being nudged into an SS10 ditch when Jose Suarez sent his 208 T16 up the inside of Giordano’s DS 3 R5 into a hairpin. The stewards let that one go, but Suarez was fined 150 euros for trying to knock Giordano out of the way three stages later!
Regardless of the whacky races going on behind, Evans was untouchable. “It’s good to get some points on the board,” said the WRC2 winner, arms unfolded and with a big grin.
Ole Christian Veiby continued his run of good form, building on his maiden WRC3 victory in Wales at the end of last season with another win in Monte Carlo.
Veiby employed the services of Jonas Andersson in the co-driver’s seat for a one-off outing before the Swede joins Pontus Tidemand for the rest of the season and enjoyed a trouble-free event.
“We only had a puncture near the end of one stage,” said Veiby. “Otherwise everything went to plan. It was great having Jonas with me.”
Veiby won WRC3 from Peugeot Academy driver Jordan Berfa, who brought his 208 R2 home one place ahead of the similar machine of Italian federationbacked Fabio Andolfi.
Evans bounced back from two punctures and finished eighth overall for M-sport