Is Evans under pressure in México?

Six rallies without a podium suggests the Toyota driver needs a better result this weekend


Fifth, fourth, fifth, sixth, retired, retired – these aren’t results that flatter Elfyn Evans.

Toyota’s Welshman heads into the third round of the 2023 World Rally Championship without a podium since August, and without a rally win in just under 18 months.

It’s not the form you typically associate with a five-time rally winner and a twice runner-up in the world championship.

So as the WRC speeds into its first gravel event of the season, Rally México, there’s an argument to suggest that Evans is under a bit of pressure. If things don’t go right again, the same recurring questions about his comfort with the GR Yaris Rally1 will be asked once more.

“We look at it and we question where he’s at, and I think rightfully so because basically we’re not seeing the Elfyn we think, and we know, that we should be seeing,” said Luke Barry on this week’s SPIN, The Rally Pod.


“We saw glimmers of hope on Monte, Sweden he went a little bit backwards, this again is a different challenge. It’s a completely different rally to what he’s had before since his discovery process of the car when he did that test in Spain late last year.

“We haven’t seen that on gravel, the progress he’s made on gravel with a Rally1 car [because there have been no gravel rallies since that test].

“I think the tricky thing for Elfyn now is if he doesn’t outscore either [Ott] Tänak or [Kalle] Rovanperä in México – I think that is key for his season. He’s fourth on the road, so I think he has to be outscoring them if he wants to just psychologically maintain his place in the championship fight.

“I know it’s only round three of 13 so maybe I’m being a little bit controversial in saying that because you never know [how the season will unfold], but just for his own headspace to get a result over them [will be important].

“If you look at his run of form and his results it looks as if he’s off the boil – not at all,” Barry added.

“Japan – he was leading on the last day; Monte – he should have been second really if it wasn’t for the puncture, Sweden was a bit more difficult but there’s progress to be made.


“I fully expect that he should show well [in México], he’s always been quite good on events like this that are tough going.

“We remember Turkey in 2020 where he won in these sorts of conditions so I think he can do it, he just needs to make sure he has a good, solid Friday, gets himself in the right position and then takes the event from there.”

Fellow podcast pundit Nate Tennis feels that one strong result could change everything for Evans – just like it has for Craig Breen.

“That’s something that’s interesting that we’ve seen over the last few years,” said Tennis. “We’ve seen people put in a position that perhaps [came] a little early in their career and they then watch their hopes just dash, and then they’re just distraught about it and it plummets their career.

“For example it’s amazing to see Craig Breen jump back into a new setting. You see him winning, you see him doing well and boom that changes everything. He’s a different person to what we saw last year.”

“It casts you under a cloud doesn’t it,” added David Evans, “if event after event you’re not getting where you want to, and for sure we did see that with Craig, we’ve talked a lot about that.

“But for me with Elfyn, I think that the talk of confidence now – we’re past that. He has all the self confidence he needs and just when you talk to him, he’s a proper grown-up now. He’s absolutely a man, totally.


“For a long time earlier in his career he looked hesitant and he looked just like a junior driver still, but now you talk to him and… drivers have this ability of indicating to you when the interview is over, and they kind of take control of the interview and there’s not many drivers that really do that in the way that an [Sébastien] Ogier or Carlos Sainz or these kind of people would.

“But Elfyn, that’s another mark of his ability and his confidence and his self-confidence that when you’re talking to him, he kind of guides where you’re going with the interview. It’s all part of it.

“He’s totally comfortable with where he is right now, he knows he’s got the speed, he knows he’s got the car, he knows he needs some results, but he’s not at that point where he’s bringing pressure to himself where he would have done probably three or four years ago.”

Make sure you listen to the episode of SPIN, The Rally Pod for more Rally México chat, plus a look ahead to the 100 Acre Wood Rally in the American Rally Association.