As if catching World Rally Championship leader Sébastien Ogier’s not going to be complicated enough over the next four rallies, Elfyn Evans had his pre-Acropolis Rally test interrupted by technical issues.
The team would not be specific on the nature of the trouble, but the test Toyota Yaris WRC spent too long on its axle stands for Evans’s liking as he looks to narrow the 38-point deficit to his team-mate.
Toyota technical director Tom Fowler told DirtFish: “I guess you would call it challenging. It wasn’t a major drama, but it didn’t go as smoothly as you might have hoped.
“As a team, we’ve done everything we wanted to do, but every driver wants to do everything themselves and maybe Elfyn didn’t get quite as many kilometers as the others.”
Evans admitted finding a balanced approach to the event would be key to success on round eight this week.
“Dry, dusty gravel rallies are not normally the sort of events where you put the thing on its absolute doorhandles – it’s a bit more about technique and thinking,” said Evans.
“We have to find the balance. I’m not going to say we’re going without risk, that would be stupid and you wouldn’t get any kind of result like that. But it’s not about throwing caution to the wind.”
And it’s not about loading the car with spare parts either, even though Friday is a complete day without any lunchtime service.
“Maybe we have to look at the car,” added Evans. “In terms of spares we’re so limited to what we can repair ourselves now anyway and the car is so strong, you have to hit something to break a part on the car – and to hit the actual part that you’re carrying in the car is quite rare!
“Carrying a lot of spares doesn’t seem to be the ‘in’ thing to do at the minute, we’ll take more protection, the same as everybody.”
With Evans having spoken about not firing on all cylinders in recent rallies, Fowler could sympathize with his driver’s plight.
“I’d say Elfyn’s position is probably harder than Sébastien’s or Kalle [Rovanperä’s],” said Fowler.
“Each driver is in a different scenario and for Elfyn it’s perhaps understandable that he might find it harder to find that confidence with the car. Séb has so many championships behind him; he’s leading this year and, at the end of the day, Séb is Séb and he’s in his zone.
“Kalle started the season well, had some challenges and is now out of contention for the title. Yes, he still carries pressure, but less overall pressure than chasing Ogier for the championship. I think it’s also fair to say Kalle’s found the sweet-spot with the car right now.
“We’ll do what we do with all of our drivers for Elfyn – we’ll work with him 100% and make sure he has all the options available with the car. We want to see Elfyn fighting for the rest of the year. We don’t want to see him fade away.”