Toyota team principal Jari-Matti Latvala did it three times. Elfyn Evans has done it twice. The Finn doesn’t want to see the Welshman do it again.
Latvala doesn’t want to see Evans making the mistakes he made. He doesn’t want him to finish second in the championship for a third time. J-ML knows how much it hurts.
“I tried to overthink everything,” Latvala told DirtFish. “I tried to take every meter out of the road, tried to do everything.
“It’s like you are overworking the whole thing and when you do this then you are starting to lose that relaxed feeling. I felt this a little bit in the middle of the [last] season with Elfyn – but I was really pleased he was able to come back on his top speed later in the year.
“I don’t want that he does the mistakes I did because I know he has been getting two times so close [to the title] and then if you don’t win you will blame yourself in the later years.
“You will say: ‘Why? I was so close. What could I have done differently?’
“Now Elfyn still has time to react. That’s why I was so happy over the summer. I don’t know, was it my words? Or was it something he was thinking to himself?
“When he did the mistake in Kenya, it took away his relaxed way of driving – he then became afraid of doing the mistake and he was doing everything to make sure you don’t do mistakes anymore.
“He came back on the Acropolis Rally, but he had a problem with the car and we could only see this speed in the first stage and then on the end of the rally.
“When he was coming to Finland he was on a different level. He was driving like a Finn.”
Latvala is the most experienced driver in the history of the World Rally Championship and he’s ready to share that wisdom with Evans – a driver he considers among the favorites for this year’s title.
“Definitely,” said Latvala. “Elfyn is one of the favorites for the championship next season.”
Having finished second to team-mate Sébastien Ogier for the last two years, Evans knows Ogier’s full-time WRC departure opens a door for him according to Latvala.
“It’s a bit the same when [Sébastien] Loeb retired,” said Latvala. “That opened the game. I remember thinking back then: ‘Yeah, now I will have a chance. Finally! Somebody else is going to be the world champion…’
“But of course then Ogier started to do his championships strikes.
“It’s the same, now every driver in the championship thinks the same, now they are thinking: ‘Now I have a chance!’
“Elfyn has that chance.”