Elfyn Evans has revealed that his 10-second time penalty for checking in one-minute late to SS8 was just an “unfortunate mistake”.
Evans had led Ypres Rally Belgium ever since the second stage, inheriting top spot when his Toyota team-mate Kalle Rovanperä spectacularly crashed out after running wide and being flipped over by a ditch.
However, some setup adjustments in service boosted Thierry Neuville’s confidence and Neuville soon moved to the head of the pack after Friday’s penultimate stage.
Evans had been hampered by a slow puncture at the end of SS6, carrying a rain tire on the rear as a result and losing time on the next two stages.
But his shot at victory was further damaged when he and co-driver Scott Martin checked into the final stage one minute late, thus incurring a 10s time penalty.
That means instead of trailing rally leader Neuville by 3.7s, Evans is 13.7s in arrears.
Evans didn’t explain what had led to his late check-in at the end of the stage, but revealed the reason to DirtFish.
“That was a bit of an unfortunate incident on Scotty’s side,” Evans confirmed.
“I said to him ‘it’s one in four years, so that can be forgiven’. Of course we know how important the seconds are, but you know, it happens.
“It’s just an unfortunate mistake.”
Speaking about his afternoon generally, Evans added: “Yeah not a bad day. I think we were pretty unlucky with that cut in the tire that meant that we then had to do the last two on a rain tire there.
“Completely upset the balance for us. Frustrating not to be more competitive this afternoon.”
However Evans isn’t ruling himself out of the victory fight quite yet, promising “we can try” to claw the time back.
“It’s a long way to go, big, big day tomorrow so we have to continue to learn, to enjoy the stages and see what’s possible,” he said.