Evans heads shakedown but still playing down chances

WRC points leader beats Hyundai's Neuville on Rally México warm-up stage

Elfyn Evans Toyota México 2020

Running first on the road, World Rally Championship leader Elfyn Evans accepts he is a Welsh lamb to the slaughter on Rally México this week – but, for now at least, he has dodged that fate with fastest time on Thursday’s shakedown stage.

Talking to DirtFish, the Toyota driver admitted he was slightly surprised by the result of the 3.41-mile stage.

“It was good,” he said, “I’d say it was better than I expected, there was a bit more grip than I thought there would be.

“The stage did clean, as you can see from the times, but the initial feeling was quite good. I’m not sure it’s going to be the same tomorrow morning.

“OK, it is a representative stage, but I’m not sure it’s completely representative of El Chocolate [SS3, Friday’s first stage]. Chocolate is a bit more sandy, sand over rocks, today was more hard-based and gravelly.”

Evans got a taste of running first on the road at shakedown and wasted no time in laying down a marker, as only Teemu Suninen went faster than him on the first run. After four attempts, the Yaris WRC ended up 0.6 seconds faster than Thierry Neuville, with the Belgian a tenth up on Evans’ team-mate Sebastien Ogier.

Ahead of the event, Evans admitted his biggest hope of backing up his Rally Sweden win with a similar result in North America would rest with heavy rain interrupting the usual blue skies and 30-plus degrees.

Increasingly weather forecasts are talking of rain and storms through the coming days, but Evans’ feet remain firmly on the ground.

“It would have to rain so much for us to have an advantage – it dries so quickly and there’s so much ground temperature in there as well,” he added.