Why hasn’t Evans been able to keep pace with Rovanperä?

Rovanperä was clearly faster on Rally Estonia's Saturday stages – but what was the underlying reason?


Every time it looks like Elfyn Evans might begin to get the upper hand on his Toyota team-mate Kalle Rovanperä, the Finn strikes back – and strikes back hard.

On Friday morning Evans looked to be in total control of Rally Estonia. But the tables quickly turned as the sun began its descent west, and on Saturday Rovanperä’s lead only extended further, ending the day with a 29.1-second advantage.

Rovanperä has totally dominated the second full day, but it’s not as though Evans has been slouching either.

He’s been fast. He’s just not been as fast as his team-mate.


In moments like this, it can be hard to fathom what’s going wrong. Evans seems happy with his car, he’s enjoying the rhythm of the Estonian stages and he’s avoided any real issues.

And yet Rovanperä is still capable of going seconds quicker every time.

But there could be an answer lurking in the background.

It’s clear the two have very different styles of driving, and around Estonia, that seems to be playing into Rovanperä’s hands.

Evans is the one that attacks the jumps more aggressively, hitting the crests at higher speeds, allowing him to end the majority of straights on the stages faster than Rovanperä.

I think let’s face it, if I go off trying to catch him now, I’ll look pretty stupid. Elfyn Evans won't be throwing caution to the wind on Sunday

But his landings are also often ragged, and when a corner has swiftly arrived after a jump, Evans has had a tendency to end up either slightly off-line or had moments where he’s gone wide and fallen off the ultimate line.

Rovanperä meanwhile might arrive at the corners slightly behind Evans, but he’s gaining much better exits and that’s making up for all the time loss and more, enabling him to extend his advantage.

Evans has also had several moments where he’s been over-rotating the car, as if he’s been trying almost too hard to squeeze every ounce of performance out of the car.

Of the two, Evans looks more ragged, on the edge, and while it’s exciting to watch the car dance around right on the limit, it’s clearly not working out to be the fastest way to get the job done.


Evans is fully aware that he attacks the stages in a very different way to Rovanperä, but admits it’s hard to process any changes mid-rally.

“I think he has a slightly different style, there’s no question to that,” Evans explained to DirtFish.

“And of course, we try and learn off each other always. But you know, it’s not easy to process that in the space of overnight. But we’ll try.”

But is it worth Evans trying something different?

He’s nearly half a minute down on the lead, he’s not exactly within championship contention at this moment in time, so surely it’s worth either trying to copy his team-mate’s approach, or going all-out, risking everything to snatch it back.

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It’s almost as if he has nothing to lose. Although as he rightly points out, he does.

“Well, there’s always the team’s perspective to lose,” he said.

“It’s not been discussed but at the end of the day we are one and two. It would be a shame to lose that.

“At the same time, I think let’s face it, if I go off trying to catch him now, I’ll look pretty stupid.

“So yeah, you can argue on one hand I have nothing to lose. But at the same time, it’s a team game as well, and at the end of the day, I haven’t been so reliable at the end of the year either.

“So it’s still important to at least not go crazy.”


Going crazy definitely won’t help Evans overhaul the ever-steely Rovanperä. But he also can’t keep attacking the rallies in the same vein as he is at this very moment.

The onboards show where the differences lie between the pair and where Rovanperä gains so much momentum.

And while he might not want to concede his own approach, it’s clear that he needs to try something new, something different, if he’s going to find a way to consistently match Rovanperä’s pace in the future.