Class act Evans stakes claim for WRC future
Wet weather remains one of the greatest of great levelers when it comes to getting a car around a corner, for example, 1993 European Grand Prix, Ayrton Senna, lap one, etc.
This might be the first time that Elfyn Evans has been compared to Senna, in fact, I’m pretty sure it is. But what the Welshman did in some of the wettest and toughest Corsican conditions ever last season was awesome. It probably saved his career and certainly helped keep him at M-sport.
Will it be the same story this time around? Certainly, Evans has done his bit: his time splashing through the sodden Saturday afternoon NovellaPietralba test was another display of talent in marginal conditions. Evans and co-driver Craig Parry bossed their final WRC2 round of the season from the very start. The Welsh pair and their Ford Fiesta R5 put Skoda’s preferred asphalt ace Jan Kopecky to the sword and the Fabia R5 man had no answer across the spread of three days.
Evans romped into a 17.9-second lead from the opening stage, but was forced onto the back foot when Kopecky came back at him in the next two. Fastest again on Friday’s finale, Evans was quickest on three from four on Saturday – building a cushion big enough to ensure a risk-free run on Sunday. The gap remained a pleasing 33.3s at the finish. Thirdplaced Yoann Bonato was miles behind (3m39.6s to be precise).
Evans’ victory moves him further clear at the top of the WRC2 table, but the vagaries of the FIA’S scoring system for the WRC support series ensure the advantage still lies with Teemu Suninen, who completes his campaign in Spain.
A WRC2 title to match his BRC win would be nice for Evans, but the big and most cherished prize remains gainful employment in the WRC next season.
Three of Hyundai’s all-new i20 R5s were in Corsica and, predictably, Kevin Abbring and his British co-driver Seb Marshall were comfortably the quickest of the trio. Sadly their run came to nought when a puncture developed into suspension damage which developed into a damaged water pipe. With the engine at stake, the machine was switched off in SS7.
Frenchman Laurent Pellier enjoyed a dream WRC debut, winning the Junior section by just over half a minute from Yohan Rossel.
“This event has been magic,” said Pellier. “We have had a great battle with Rossel for the whole rally, but this result is more than I could think about at the start.”
Simone Tempestini took the Junior crown with fourth place – his nearest championship rivals Terry Folb and Ole Christian Veiby had to win to deny him the crown, but finished fourth and seventh respectively, both having tough weekends.
Sebastien Ogier (Fra)/julien Ingrassia (FRA) Thierry Neuville (BEL)/ Nicolas Gilsoul (BEL) Andreas Mikkelsen (Nor)/anders Jaeger (NOR) Jari-matti Latvala (FIN)/ Miikka Anttila (FIN) Craig Breen (Irl)/scott Martin (GBR) Hayden Paddon (NZL)/JOHN Kennard (NZL) Dani Sordo (ESP)/MARC Marti (ESP) Eric Camilli (FRA)/ Benjamin Veillas (FRA) Mads Ostberg (NOR)/OLA Floene (NOR) Ott Tanak (Est)/raigo Molder (EST) Elfyn Evans (Gbr)/craig Parry (GBR) Kris Meeke (GBR)/PAUL Nagle (IRL) Lorenzo Bertelli (Ita)/simone Scattolin (ITA) Simone Tempestini (ROU)/GIO Bernacchini (ITA) Kevin Abbring (NLD)/SEB Marshall (GBR) Mo Al-mutawaa (Aer)/stuart Loudon (GBR)