Twelve months have now passed since Elfyn Evans won his last World Rally Championship round. That’s far from ideal for a driver who had been aiming to win this year’s title before the season got underway.
Evans might claim that he’s not going to alter his approach and that he’s not going to throw absolute caution to the wind in order to take a victory, but there’s no denying a certain level of pressure is beginning to mount on the Toyota driver.
Inevitably, there is pressure from Toyota. You can’t expect to compete at the top level of rallying without pressure from your team.
But now Toyota team principal Jari-Matti Latvala has laid down some clear targets and objectives for Evans as he heads into the final two rounds of the season, starting with this weekend’s Rally Spain.
“The beginning of the season was very difficult for Elfyn and then he stepped up and he started to be in a good rhythm from after he finished in Croatia,” Latvala told DirtFish.
“After that, it sort of helped and then in Portugal he did a very good performance.
“But yeah, the season hasn’t been the most kind for him to be fair.
“He has been unlucky, and it’s then been difficult to build up the good self-confidence and I’m sure there’s been a bit of acting.
“He had a good chance again in New Zealand, was really good speed. But unfortunately he had this one impact which damaged the rollcage and then couldn’t finish the rally.
“I know the hunger is there, the hunger to win is definitely there, and I think he hasn’t changed the approach on that side.
“But probably the self-confidence is a bit, it’s not on the same level where it was maybe last year.
“So that’s what I basically hope between now and the last two events if we could have a good solid podium finishes, that would be good for the end of season and 2023.”
2022 really hasn’t been the easiest of WRC seasons for Evans, and no matter who you are, not performing at a level you know you are capable of is going to affect how you drive from a psychological perspective.
It’s tough to get over as there’s no easy fix, but Latvala insists Evans has his and Toyota’s full support.
“Well, we try to support him and try to be supportive and find positive things to get him back on the right track,” said Latvala.
“I know myself, I’ve been in the same situation. But very often you go through things in your head and it’s difficult to relax your head.
“It’s even, many people try to say ‘relax’, and it’s easy to say, but it’s more difficult to do.
“But basically what I want to do is of course try to keep all of the support to Elfyn and make sure he has all the possibilities like everyone else to go out and fight for the victory.”
Latvala’s targets were put to Evans ahead on Wednesday night in Salou, and although Evans agreed it was a big ask, he admitted “it’s what we’re here for”.
“At the end of the day that’s what we want for ourselves as well,” he told DirtFish.
“I think it’s definitely not been the season we wanted but the potential is there to score podiums on these last two rallies.
“Overall the pace has been not so disastrous,” Evans added. “There’s been some good performances along the way but we haven’t been able to consistently bring it all together, which is obviously what we need to do now for the remaining rounds.”