EVANS LOOK­ING OUT­SIDE M-SPORT F0R 2017 SEAT

GROUP RAL­LY­ING ED­I­TOR

Motor Sport News - - Rally News - Photos: mck­lein-im­age­database.com Done­gal re­port, p38

Mo­tor­sport News un­der­stands that El­fyn Evans is in dis­cus­sions which could lead him away from the M-sport World Rally Team next sea­son.

The Welsh­man, who was dropped from front­line ac­tion after two years in a Ford Fi­esta RS WRC at the start of this sea­son, says a re­turn to a World Rally Car is vi­tal for his ca­reer pro­gres­sion in 2017. And he’s ready to leave M-sport to land that drive.

Evans said: “I’m work­ing flat out to se­cure a fu­ture in a World Rally Car, I’m not re­ally in­ter­ested in an­other year do­ing what I’m do­ing now. Driv­ing the R5 car isn’t help­ing me go for­ward at the mo­ment. What I did for the last two years was fan­tas­tic, but even that’s not enough ex­pe­ri­ence to be driv­ing and com­pet­ing at the high­est level. There’s still learn­ing to do in a World Rally Car and I’ll be hon­est, the end of last year was quite tough, but I feel like I’ve got a lot I want to im­ple­ment now and stay­ing at M-sport and do­ing that is one of the op­tions.

“I’m grate­ful to have had the op­por­tu­ni­ties with M-sport and, to be hon­est, I’m re­ally kick­ing my­self that the op­por­tu­nity from the last two years didn’t be­come what it could have done. But this whole ex­pe­ri­ence has made me more hun­gry than ever. Un­til I’m sit­ting in a car in Monte Carlo in Jan­uary, I can’t take any­thing for granted.”

Evans de­clined to dis­cuss ei­ther his con­tract or talks he’s had re­gard­ing next sea­son, but MN’S un­der­stand­ing is that – con­trac­tu­ally – he could be avail­able to a ri­val man­u­fac­turer in 2017.

Head­ing into this week­end’s Scot­tish Rally, Evans sits sec­ond in the Bri­tish Rally Cham­pi­onship stand­ings and first in WRC2. With the pace he’s show­ing, he’s keen not to be cast as a sup­port se­ries driver.

“I can make that next step [to a World Rally Car],” he said.

“It’s up to peo­ple to read be­tween the lines about what was go­ing on last year.

“I’ve shown when things were right that I’m ca­pa­ble of fight­ing and fight­ing not just in the WRC, but right at the front of the WRC.”

M-sport head Mal­colm Wil­son said he was con­fi­dent he would keep Evans next sea­son and pointed out that he was about to em­bark on 2017 test­ing.

Bel­gian favourite and Skoda Fabia R5 driver Freddy Loix starts this week­end’s Ypres Rally with his work cut out in pur­suit of an 11th suc­cess.

Ford Fi­esta R5 driver Alexey Lukyanuk has never com­peted in Ypres be­fore, but has taken a max­i­mum score from two of the last three asphalt ERC rounds. He will be look­ing to move to the front of the ERC stand­ings, in the ab­sence of se­ries leader Katjo Ka­je­tanow­icz, who has elected to miss Bel­gium.

Citroen WRC driver Stephane Le­feb­vre also re­turns to the event, and drives a DS 3 R5 as does Monte Carlo win­ner Bryan Bouffier. Citroen will be hop­ing the classy duo can chal­lenge Skoda and M-sport’s finest.

Ypres will also mark the pub­lic de­but of Hyundai’s i20 R5. Kevin Ab­bring and his Bri­tish co-driver Se­bas­tian Mar­shall will drive the Korean firm’s first non-turbo com­pe­ti­tion car since the Coupe Kit Car in 1997. Ab­bring won’t be el­i­gi­ble for over­all re­sults, run­ning as course car at the front of the field.

Lo­cal hero and four-time win­ner Pa­trick Sni­jers makes his de­but in a Peu­geot 208T16, hav­ing com­peted in a Porsche 997 R-GT last year.

ERC Ju­nior Cham­pi­onship leader Chris In­gram faces se­ri­ous com­pe­ti­tion from fel­low Opel Adam driv­ers Mar­i­jan Griebel and Julius Tan­nert. In­gram’s fel­low Brits Cal­lum Devine (Opel Adam R2) and Catie Mun­nings (Peu­geot 208 R2) also com­pete on the event.

The event starts from Ypres on Fri­day af­ter­noon, fin­ish­ing at 2230hrs on Satur­day night after 17 stages and 155 miles of asphalt com­pe­ti­tion.

CAR

Ford Fi­esta R5 Ford Fi­esta R5 Skoda Fabia R5 Ford Fi­esta R5 Ford Fi­esta R5 Skoda Fabia R5 Citroen DS 3 R5 Peu­geot 208 T16 R5 Subaru Im­preza Ford Fi­esta R5

WRC2 leader wants WRC seat Evans: op­tions open

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