Elfyn Evans has revealed he was able to shift up gears but not down as he struggled through the majority of the Acropolis Rally’s first full day with gearbox trouble.
Evans had been lying third, just 1.7s adrift of the rally lead, after Thursday’s Athens street stage and the first gravel test on Friday but his day soon turned sour on the way to SS3 after his Toyota picked up an, as yet, undefined gearbox problem.
“It was quite a last-minute thing before we went into SS3, everything was fine after SS2,” Evans explained.
“When we then put the power on and started to drive towards the stage, we found that we had an issue, so we then tried to find some quick remedies but unfortunately picked up some time penalties and then more again later trying to find some results with the problem.
“My paddle [shift] was not working at all basically,” he added, “but I had the means to go up but not down otherwise so then it was a case of if you try your luck let’s say for certain sections to go up a gear you struggle a lot then when it gets tighter.
“We could still go down the box but it’s a bit of a job underneath the bonnet so yeah it was a frustrating few stages this afternoon.”
Evans racked up a total of 2m10s of penalties and hemorrhaged a similar amount of time on the stages to head into Saturday 16th overall, 4m46.7s behind his rally-leading team-mate Kalle Rovanperä.
However, he conceded that “the only positive” was he did manage to bring his Yaris WRC to the end of the day which avoided accumulating even more penalties for missing stages.
“If we’d have had to retire or decided to retire then the SuperRally penalties would’ve been massive so at least we can limit the damage by continuing and being here,” he said.
Although the Toyota team back at service didn’t find anything “obvious” that could be wrong with the car throughout the day, Evans is “quite sure” the problem can be rectified.
“I’m quite sure it’s fixable but let’s say there’s nothing obvious with the information they had. But obviously now that they’ll get the car back, I’m sure they can get on with it and get it sorted. I don’t foresee it being a problem.”
The knock-on effect of Evans’ drama is that it further hurts his world championship attack. Heading into the Acropolis Rally, Evans was 38 points behind Sébastien Ogier and while he has encountered problems, Ogier is third overall and just 3.9s from the lead.
“Yeah, I mean the situation wasn’t looking great anyway so it’s gone from bad to worse, but it’s the name of the game,” Evans said of his title aspirations.
“I don’t think I’ve had really one technical issue since I’ve joined this team, so you know, at the end of the day these things happen and it’s a very rare occurrence here so I’m sure it’s just one of those things.”