Elfyn Evans says his high-speed accident on the South Estonia Rally was the consequence of going “just a wheel’s width” off the road.
The Welshman’s Toyota Yaris WRC rolled spectacularly out of the one-day event – a rally that’s been seen as the World Rally Championship warm-up for Rally Estonia which starts in 12 days.
Evans went off the road near the end of the fifth of eight stages, having run in an early third before slipping to fourth place behind team-mate Sébastien Ogier.
He explained the crash to DirtFish, saying: “I turned in ever so slightly early to a corner. I saw the long grass, but I took a bit of a chance to keep my line. I was probably a wheel’s width off the road in the cut, but there was a tree stump hidden in there.
“When you’re going at such high speed, there’s not really a lot you can do about it. We rolled into the trees in fifth or sixth gear. I can’t remember whether it was fifth or sixth, but it was fast.”
Evans praised the strength of the Toyota after he and co-driver Scott Martin walked away from the crash without any injury.
“We knew these cars were safe,” said Evans, “but an accident like this one gives us more confirmation. The damage to the car is cosmetic; the shell is damaged extensively, but that came from going through the trees. The car’s [safety] structure held together perfectly.
“In this kind of crash, you’re getting rid of the energy more gradually rather than all in one big hit.”
Despite the crash, this year’s Rally Sweden winner said he still learned plenty from the five and a half stages he managed to complete.
“It definitely worthwhile doing the event,” added Evans.
“It’s always useful to be making and going through notes on a piece of road you don’t know – that’s something you only get the chance to do once in a test. It was really valuable to be able to test three different set-ups – we even got a good bit from the stage we were in before [the accident]. Obviously we’d done the test before the event and the rally confirmed everything we knew from there.”
Evans was also adamant his accident will have no impact on his performance in Estonia where the World Rally Championship resumes next month.
He said: “There will be no issue for that event. I’m back in the car before then for another test anyway [Toyota’s Rally Turkey test in Greece] and even if I wasn’t back driving again, it wouldn’t be the end of the world.”
Hyundai Motorsport driver Ott Tänak won the event – his second Estonian national rally in succession following his Viru Rally success last month. Evans’ Toyota team-mates Kalle Rovanperä and Ogier were second and third.