This time last year, Elfyn Evans was leading the World Rally Championship. This time two years ago, he was 34 points behind the series leader after two rounds. Three years ago, it was 33 points. Four years ago, it was 30. This year, he’s eight points off the top after two rallies, and it shouldn’t be the end of the world.
Except, just a little bit, it is for the Toyota driver.
Don’t forget, the Welshman was the clear favorite to lift last year’s drivers’ title going into the final round. These days, anything but a win’s just not really tolerated.
Second place on the Monte (behind Sébastien Ogier, who scored his eighth success in the mountains) wasn’t a bad start to the campaign, but Evans was frustrated by his team-mate’s ability to wring more out of the Yaris WRC than him.
Fastest times on two of the 10 stages on last month’s Arctic Rally Finland might have silver-lined a fifth-placed cloud. Not for Evans, who told DirtFish he “wasn’t happy with either” of his Monte or Arctic results.
Evans’ pace and potential have developed enormously in recent years, but his speed on asphalt has been a constant. Remember Corsica, 2015? On one of the most complicated asphalt WRC rounds in years, with torrential rain evolving to drying conditions via some of the most complex tire choices in recent seasons, and Evans led after stage two. And remained first or second for the remainder of the event.
I’m going to Croatia next month looking to turn things around, we really need a strong performanceElfyn Evans
Four years on and he would have won Corsica had it not been for a parked car on the recce – the parked car meant Evans deviated from the line he would have taken on the rally. Had the car not been there, he would have spotted the pothole that punctured the Ford Fiesta WRC’s front-right and he may have taken what would have been his final victory for M-Sport.
Get it? He’s good on asphalt.
“I’m going to Croatia next month looking to turn things around,” he said. “We really need a strong performance and it’ll be nice to get out on the Tarmac again. I don’t know much about the roads or the place, to be honest. We’ll have a look at some videos and look forward to the test.
“But for now, we’ve got a bit of time between the rallies, so I think there’ll be a lot of training.
“It’s going to be, in all seriousness, a really busy season once we get going again and therefore it’s important to prepare as well as possible. There’s very little we can actually do to prepare for the likes of Croatia because it’s an all-new rally again but we’ll do what we can.”