Evans’ Portugal setback has a silver lining

A Sunday switch-up in set-up helped Elfyn Evans leave Portugal on a positive

Elfyn Evans

Elfyn Evans left Rally Portugal under something of a cloud. The Welshman has, however, found a silver-lining in that cloud.

The Matosinhos event was not kind to the Toyota star. A puncture and a lost set of pacenotes on Friday only compounded issues around the set-up of his Yaris Rally1. By the end of Sunday, a six-point deficit to championship leader Thierry Neuville had mushroomed to 24.

But there is some light at the end of the tunnel for the driver who has finished runner-up in three of the last four WRC campaigns. In the midst of the difficulties, Evans found a car option for Sunday which took him in the right direction – even if that wasn’t borne out on the timesheets.

Speaking to DirtFish at the end of the rally, Evans said: “I think things were going a lot better today (Sunday) than they have for the rest of the weekend, but there’s still a couple of areas that doesn’t make me full of confidence, let’s say.

Elfyn Evans

“And, of course, that’s something we still need to try and address – even if we have made progress, even if the result doesn’t show it at the end here.”

All four Toyota drivers were struggling to get the front of the Yaris working as they wanted through the opening day of round five – even eventual winner Sébastien Ogier reported his car as ‘lazy.’

“Like I say, it’s the general car balance” said Evans, “and, obviously, it’s more critical in Sardinia.”

And it’s Sardinia that will now be front-and-center in his mind. With Neuville stretching his lead, Evans needs to find a way to get comfortable in the Yaris and push his rival every step of the way.

Elfyn Evans

He added: “All these rounds are important. Of course, this [Portugal] was a pretty bad one for us. So, yes, we need to make the most of the opportunity in Sardinia.”

One additional silver lining is that, while his Portugal set-up was compromised due to the test for that event being doubled-up with testing for Sardinia, he goes to the next round with direct experience of how this year’s Yaris runs on the rougher roads of the Italian island.

Evans concluded: “Like I said, it’s not as bad as it was. We’ve definitely made progress, so it’s not all doom and gloom.

“But, you know, I’m sensitive to the car and, obviously, I like to have it to my liking. So, let’s see if we can come up with something.”