World Rally Championship leader Elfyn Evans will start next month’s Monza Rally finale chasing his third win of the season rather than driving to protect his position at the top of the table.
Evans sits 14 points ahead of Toyota team-mate Sébastien Ogier with just 30 points remaining on offer following the loss of this month’s penultimate round of the WRC, Belgium’s Ypres Rally.
“We will go to Monza trying to win the rally – that’s ultimately where I’m at,” said Evans. “From my side, with the points situation as it is, the championship is still very much an open game.”
Despite the loss of Belgium, Evans remains cautious about his chances of becoming the third Brit to take the title following in the footsteps of Colin McRae (1995) and Richard Burns (2001).
He said: “In one way, of course, the title is closer but in reality things are still open and anything can still happen in the one remaining round – and that’s assuming Monza will run to a full itinerary and full points will be awarded, as we currently expect.
“You can look at it [the loss of Ypres] both ways. If I’d had an issue with two rounds left, there would still have been one remaining rally to make up any lost ground. Now, should anything go wrong in Italy, the job is probably finished – there will be no opportunity to claw back points.”
Evans added that he felt for the Ypres organizers, understanding the work involved to put a WRC round together so quickly.
“It’s such a shame,” he said. “I know the Belgian organizers had put in a massive effort to get their event onto the WRC calendar and we were really looking forward to the special challenges of rallying on the rural roads around Ypres.
“We will now keep working as much as possible in readiness for Monza.”