I AM HUNGRIER THAN EVER TO PROVE MYSELF Brit is confirmed in WRC crew alongside Ogier and Tanak at M-sport
Britain’s returning World Rally Championship star Elfyn Evans says he comes back to the series as a more complete driver and a tougher character than when he left at the end of 2015.
Evans’ deal to contest this year’s WRC in a DMACK World Rally Team Ford Fiesta WRC was confirmed earlier this week, bringing to an end what has been one the sport’s worst-kept secrets in recent years.
M-sport will enter and run the DMACK Fiesta and Evans will be the Cumbrian squad’s third registered potential point-scorer alongside Sebastien Ogier and Ott Tanak. After being benched from his full-time WRC seat last season, Evans told MN he had learned plenty in his year in a Fiesta R5 – a year when he won the British Rally Championship title and came close to winning WRC2.
“I never doubted this is what I wanted to do,” Evans said. “When I was on the outside looking in last year, it really hammered it home just how much I did want this. It would have been easy to spit the dummy out and say: ‘No, I don’t want to do that [drive the R5 car],’ but if I’d done that the result would probably have been that I probably wouldn’t have driven a car again. I had to grit my teeth and get on with it.
“It’s fair to say the last year has toughened me up a bit and taught me plenty, it’s been a life experience as much as anything else. I knew you could never take anything for granted in motorsport, but I know more than ever that nobody’s guaranteed their seat. When you’ve been through this kind of thing, you do come back with a different perspective and you come back stronger.”
Evans added that he’d taken the time to scrutinise his way of working on events last year.
“I’ve worked on my techniques,” he said. “It’s true that I did analyse things an awful lot and I think I was quite blinkered in the way that I was looking at certain things. I’ve got a much broader view of everything now.”
Evans will be present at the Autosport International Show tomorrow (Thursday) morning before flying out for his pre-event Monte Carlo test.
Evans was quick to pay tribute to both Malcolm Wilson and Dick Cormack (M-sport and DMACK managing directors) for the faith they showed in returning him to a World Rally Car at the sport’s highest level – not least when they were faced with the option of running Andreas Mikkelsen instead of Evans.
Evans said: “It’s been great to see the loyalty from both M-sport and DMACK to stick to the plan when it would have been easy for them to put somebody else in the car. I won the BRC with DMACK last year and I know how much those guys are putting into everything and the rate of development of new tyres is really impressive. It’s really nice to be at the centre of that. We know in certain conditions this season we’re going to have an edge and we have to be ready to take advantage of that.”
DMACK came close to breaking its WRC duck with Ott Tanak in Poland last year and the team is talking in terms of potential wins in 2017. Evans was more guarded on the subject of what could be expected in terms of results.
“We’ve got a brand, spanking new car from M-sport and that’s so exciting,” said Evans, “but nobody knows what anybody else has got. Let’s wait and see. Watch this space…”
After a year with Craig Parry, Evans will renew his partnership with former co-driver Dan Barritt this season.
“Dan and I feel there’s some unfinished business, if you like, but I want to say a big thank you to Craig – we achieved a lot and won a lot of rallies together last year,” said Evans.
It’s not snowing in the Alps. Or at least it wasn’t. It is around minus 10 degrees at the Torsby heart of Rally Sweden. But the green, grass can still be seen.
Around this time of the year, the World Rally Championship becomes obsessed with the weather. Will it snow? What about some rain? If it rains, will it freeze? If it freezes, what time will it thaw? Getting your meteorology right is a key factor in winning round one in Monte Carlo.
But just for once, wouldn’t it be nice if we could see some real snow on the mountains around Gap? How long has it been since the Monte organisers have been forced to cancel a stage because the road has become impassable due to the depth of snow? I suspect Maurice Gatsonides was still competing…
There’s a romance to a snowy Monte, as well as a real sense of adventure for the crews. When it rains, round one becomes little more than a wet and miserable Sanremo.
Nothing we can do about it though. We just have to get on with it, and trying to second guess what’ll come from the clouds sitting just above some of Europe’s highest peaks is part and parcel of what round one’s about.
The same cannot be said for Sweden though. Last year’s event was saved by a matter of hours. If the margins are as close this time then more stringent measures must be taken by WRC Promoter and the FIA. Much as I love Karlstad and admire the work put in by the Swedish organisers, the series finds itself collectively crossing its fingers as January looks to February once more. Let’s be positive: it’ll snow, it’ll snow, it’ll snow. And remain far below zero. It’s around this time of the year that I would have been reminded how much snow there had been on Montes and Swedish Rallies in years passed. Happening upon former Autosport rallies editor – then editor, then publisher – Peter Foubister would have taken care of the next 10 or 15 minutes as we remembered some of the classic season openers.
As many of you will be aware, Foubie passed away unexpectedly last November and his funeral was in Edinburgh last week. Later in the same week, the RAC Club in London hosted a gathering to celebrate the life of one of its own.
Guests were greeted by one of Colin Mcrae’s 1995 Subaru Impreza 555s in reception and that set the tone for what was an undeniably impressive group who came to remember Peter.
Malcolm Wilson and David Richards talked of their memories of Foubie, while David Coulthard and Allan Mcnish got together as an unexpectedly amusing double act in an effort to read a message from Dario Franchitti. Sir Stirling Moss sent both condolences and apologies. Such is the mark of both men.
Family Foub were treated to a whirlwind tour of a sport’s love for one of its genuine characters and true greats. While the rest of us learned how Peter once woke with painted toenails…
District Automobile Club Ltd’s committee, it was decided that, due to the current financial uncertainties of running a forest stage event, the difficult decision to cancel the Grooms Garage Mid-wales Stages 2017 had to be made.”
The Border Counties Rally is a round of the Scottish championship, and traditionally takes part in the northern reaches of Kielder Forest.
The addition of the Border Counties has been met with widespread backing from the BRC community, although adding the event does cause a headache for crews wishing to compete in the Irish Tarmac Championship and BRC.
The Pirelli Carlisle Rally clashes with Killarney Rally of the Lakes, a round of the ITRC. The Border Counties falls on the same weekend as the West Cork Rally, creating a new clash between the two series.
More details on the Border Counties Rally are due to be announced at the Autosport International Show this week (January 12-15).