Defending World Rally Champion Ott Tänak says Elfyn Evans would be a worthy successor to him, should the Welshman secure this year’s title irrespective of whether or not the planned season finale goes ahead.
While WRC Promoter remains adamant next week’s Monza Rally will go ahead, significant concerns remain both locally in Lombardy and among the teams about the prospect of arriving in and spending a week around Italy’s most coronavirus-affected area.
If the season’s second Italian event was lost at this late stage, Tänak believes his former M-Sport team-mate still deserves to wear the 2020 crown. Just.
Talking about Evans’ year and current top-of-the-table status, Tänak told DirtFish: “It’s definitely been a really difficult and different season – there has been nothing normal about this year. But if you are first then you are the winner.
“Like, I said, it’s not been normal. There’s no doubt that if you are champion, usually you have spent more time cleaning the road and being at the front of the field on more [hot gravel] rallies. But it hasn’t been like that. We had three rallies at the start and we’ve had three more since [lockdown].”
Asked his views on competing at Monza, he added: “Definitely we would all like to go racing. That’s why we are here. And after a season like the one we had, if it would be possible to do this in a safe way then I would love to do it.”
As the teams go through their preparations for next week’s northern Italian finale, Evans sits on a 14-point lead over Toyota team-mate Sébastien Ogier.
Thierry Neuville is the nearest non-Yaris WRC-driving championship challenger in third place. The Belgian is 24 points off the top, while Neuville’s Hyundai team-mate Tänak is in need of something of a miracle to successfully defend his crown. The Estonian is 28 points behind Evans with just 30 on the table if Monza avoids cancelation.