Evans taking ‘every COVID precaution’ in hunt for title

It's the invisible enemy standing in the way of all crews, but none more so than Toyota's WRC points leader


No World Rally Championship leader has ever been in quite the position Elfyn Evans is as he heads for the start of Rally Italy.

Eighteen points clear of Toyota team-mate Sébastien Ogier, in theory he can be champion if he leaves Sardinia 30 points ahead.

Except it’s nowhere near that simple in reality.

This could be where the season ends and Evans won’t need to extend his lead at all.

It could be that there are two more events still to come and 60 points on the table.

A man who surely had limited expectations of being WRC champion going into 2020 is now a strong title favorite but with no idea what he actually needs to do to become champion and facing the prospect of becoming champion at home with a phone call to say a rally has been cancelled.

And there’s also the bizarre fact that his biggest enemy may well be not any of his rivals on the stages, but the virus that has created so much disruption in this WRC season and across the planet.

“It’s something that’s crossed my mind,” said Evans when asked by DirtFish about the precautions he was taking to making sure he wasn’t sidelined with COVID-19 himself.

“It definitely would be not a good time, it’s never a good time, but in terms of turning up to the rallies, it would be the end of that.

“We’re taking every precaution we can. The reality is unless you’re going to fly by private jet and take your own car everywhere, it’s not that easy to fully isolate yourself from the possibility.

“We’re taking everything we can within reason but there’s only so much you can do.

“When I’m home it’s easy because I never really go anywhere anyway! I just lock myself in my office, watch a few videos, go and do some training outside, eat some dinner, and go to bed.

“That side of it’s easy when you’re at home. It’s just the traveling and everything like that which becomes a challenge.”

Evans acknowledged that had been why he’d taken up Toyota’s suggestion of heading home from last month’s Rally Turkey via team-mate Ogier’s private jet to Germany.

“The flights were full on the way out and that took me by a bit of a surprise to be honest,” said Evans.

“It’s all about limiting the chances and of course if we could do that by taking a flight to Germany and then a quieter business flight home on Monday morning, then it seemed reasonable to do so.”

Adding to the strange atmosphere around the possibility of Evans becoming world champion is the lack of national media coverage back home in the UK.

Even in Colin McRae and Richard Burns’ heyday, the WRC deserved a much greater UK profile and it gets far less general media attention now.

But for Evans, that’s actually a bonus.

“Right now in the moment I could say I’m a little bit happy about it to be honest,” he admitted.

“It frees up my time and I can fully focus on what I have to do.

“I think as a wider picture perhaps it’s a little bit sad to think back to when Colin and Richard were fighting. It was obviously big news.

“I’m not the kind of person who wants that sort of attention being perfectly honest so I’m quite happy with how it is from a personal perspective.

“But in terms of, let’s say, the sport and bringing people through and even from the wider motorsport network, it’s let’s say a little bit sad from a UK perspective.”

Words:Colin Clark

Photo:Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT