In terms of a barn find, this one was right up there: a million-Euro race car parked perfectly in a family’s Lackenhäuser outhouse. That wasn’t Elfyn Evans’ intention.
The Welshman had been charging through Saturday morning’s final stage when he was caught out by what looked like a fast right-hander. The #33 Toyota GR Yaris Rally1 got away from him and headed straight for the barn. Quick as a flash, he whipped the handbrake and spun the car to avoid hitting the barn door head-on.
Then went right through it.
The only damage of any significance was to the left-rear wheel of the Toyota. Mechanically speaking that is. The barn door has definitely seen better days.
Scott Martin was out of the car and slowing his fellow competitors down when DirtFish arrived, Evans was on the phone to the team, explaining the situation.
Despite Scotty’s best efforts, that greasy right-hander was still troubling a few folk and the prospect of somebody parallel parking outside the barn was Evans’ primary concern.
Having said no to water and chocolate, Evans had a request of his own.
“You haven’t got a tow rope, have you?”
A tow rope was duly sourced and hooked around the front of the Yaris. Between cars, 10 or so of the beefier Bavarian types got on the rope and hauled the front of the Yaris out of the way.
Having yanked the front through 45 degrees and crucially towards the barn-owner’s driveway, Evans dived in to fire the Yaris up. Dragging its left-rear, the car inched forwards and out of harm’s way.
“Mr Evans?” said one of the helpers. Both of us looked. Turns out it was Elfyn they wanted.
“Do you want, I put the parts in the car?” he said.
“Yes please,” was the response.
And with that, the rear of the car was picked up (and separated from the broken barn door) and placed in the Yaris’ trunk.
Evans was typically pragmatic and remarkably patient, listening to a German fan regale him with the time he’d met him at Goodwood. As ever, the calm and collected approach is staggering. Moments earlier, he and Martin had been hurtling through a fairly solid wooden door and now he was chatting about the Flint Wall in a Fiesta.
Did Evans park his world championship aspirations outside the barn on Saturday afternoon? The team will tell him soon enough whether his damaged Toyota can be patched up and sent out in search of powerstage points to keep the title fight alive.
In the meantime, there’s a family in Lackenhäuser who will be looking to fill the hole Elfyn left tonight – before dining in and out on the story of when a World Rally Championship star, quite literally, came knocking.