‘Fuchs takes win as Evans hits trouble’
Nicolas Fuchs celebrated his first win of the WRC2 season in Argentina – ruining the first part of M-sport and MN’S story.
The script was a simple one. Elfyn Evans flies to South America, completes his hattrick, maintaining his 100 per cent record in WRC2, before his Ford Fiesta R5 is flown home and handed to Matthew Wilson to win this weekend’s Pirelli Carlisle Rally.
Unfortunately, a fuel rail pressure sensor stopped working on the way to the third stage. Evans and co-driver Craig Parry were left stranded at the side of the road. They’d already suffered a front puncture on the opener, but nothing prepared them for the disappointment that followed.
“It’s a long way to come for that kind of Friday morning,” said Evans, ruefully. With life breathed back into the Fiesta, he then blitzed the opposition with a string of fastest times – when, that is, he wasn’t suffering from punctures.
With Evans out of the picture, the way was clear for the best of the rest.
In fairness to Fuchs, he’d been quicker than anybody through Thursday night’s Cordoba crowd-pleaser. And the Peruvian pressed on into Saturday, building a 50-second lead on the first morning.
As has been the case so many times before for Fuchs, it looked like his chance had slipped through his fingers when the powersteering pump failed on his Skoda in the second Soconcho test. Such were his efforts to keep the car in a straight line, his co-driver Fernando Mussano was called on to change gear.
Fellow Skoda runner Abdulaziz Al-kuwari stepped up and moved to the front of the field. His old co-driver Killian Duffy was back on the notes in Argentina, with Marshall Clarke still recovering from the fractured spine he suffered when he and Al-kuwari crashed out of the Qatar Rally at the start of the season.
Another inversion ruined the Middle East star’s trip to Villa Carlos Paz. Caught out by a left-hander in Villa Bustos, the Fabia R5 tumbled into a field. A punctured tyre needed changing before they could get going again and when they did, they only had two-wheel drive.
First became a very distant third at the finish.
That handed the advantage back to Fuchs, who started the final day with more than three minutes in hand over Hubert Ptaszek’s Peugeot.
Fourth would come as some consolation for Evans, but now for part two of the story. As you read this, the Fiesta is somewhere over the Atlantic. By Friday afternoon, it should be in scrutineering in Carlisle. And by Sunday… see next week’s MN.