Elfyn Evans may be up against it in the all-Toyota battle to win this year’s World Rally Championship, but he isn’t going down without a fight.
A full 30-point score on August’s Rally Finland launched Evans right back into the thick of the 2023 drivers’ title race, as he slimmed team-mate Kalle Rovanperä’s lead down to 25 points after the Finn crashed out.
Rovanperä then extended that advantage back up to 33 points on Acropolis Rally Greece earlier this month with a maximum points haul of his own, but Evans did his very best to limit the damage with second on both the rally and the powerstage.
Theoretically, Rovanperä can claim his second world title at this weekend’s Rally Chile, but that would require a near maximum-score from the 22-year-old and next-to-no points for Evans.
So in reality the fight is still open. But Evans needs to start outscoring Rovanperä, and handsomely, if he is to become world champion for the first time.
The Welshman is more than aware that the odds are stacked against him, but he is prepared to do his utmost to deny his team-mate another championship.
“Of course it’s still all to fight for and we’re going to keep giving everything until it’s not possible,” Evans said.
“That’s what we’re here for. Of course Kalle’s driving extremely well at the moment and there’s no doubt that he’s going to be difficult to catch with the speed he’s got at the moment, but it doesn’t mean we won’t stop trying.”
Rovanperä recognized the importance of his response to Evans’ Finland win with his own victory in Greece.
“Of course I feel much better than how it was looking after Rally Finland,” he said. “That was a big jump what Elfyn took from us there.
“So it was important for us to have a good weekend in Greece. At the end Elfyn also had strong points from there.”
Rally Chile could be an interesting leveler, as with so much of the route new, past experience will count for very little.
Back when Chile last ran in the WRC in 2019, Evans finished fourth overall for M-Sport while Rovanperä won the WRC2 Pro category in his Škoda, finishing eighth overall.
“We need to focus hard for the next event because Rally Chile is going to be another big challenge,” Rovanperä said.
“The last time we were there, I was driving a Rally2 car and we had a good weekend. But I think that after four years and with a lot of new stages, it is going to feel more like a new rally anyway and it’s going to be a challenging event for everyone.
“The roads are nice but the conditions can be very tricky and the grip can change a lot. Still, I’m looking forward to it and hope it can be a good rally for us.”
Evans added: “Rally Chile was a nice event when we went there for the first time back in 2019 but also a very challenging one.
“The roads remind me a bit of Wales in points, but the rally will be happening at a different time of year on this occasion and only a few of the stages will be the same.
“It will almost be like a new rally with a lot of new pacenotes to write, so it could be a difficult week. There isn’t so much knowledge from the past we can use, but I am looking forward to it nonetheless.
“We’re going to give it everything, as we will keep doing until the end of the year.”