EVANS LOOKING OUTSIDE M-SPORT F0R 2017 SEAT
GROUP RALLYING EDITOR
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.
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