Elfyn Evans wins 2012 WRC Academy title*
Following back-to-back victories in Greece, Finland and Germany, Elfyn arrived in France with a lead of 35 points in the series. He competed on the event in 2011, when he gave the R2-specification Ford Fiesta its best-ever result on a WRC round by finishing 16th overall, and so was confident that another good result was possible.
Based in the city of Strasbourg, the longest rally in the WRC Academy series had the potential to be one of the most difficult and several of Elfyn’s rivals encountered problems during the event. Elfyn, however, kept out of trouble to set three fastest stage times during the first leg on his way to ending the day with a lead of over a minute.
The second leg contained two runs through the rally’s longest stage, at over 43km, although an incident involving another competitor meant the first pass through the test was cancelled. Rally organisers also cancelled Stage 12 due to concerns over the large numbers of spectators, so just two stages made up the morning’s action.
A final loop of four stages would then decide the rally and Elfyn knew that he could afford to ease off a little. A mature drive by the 23-year-old, combined with a rapid tyre change before the last stage due to the threat of rain, then clinched the victory. Elfyn had to finish the Rallye de France with a lead of 38 points to secure the Academy crown and he did so in style; the 25 points for victory, coupled with 3 points for his stage wins, means he now has a 50 point cushion.
The statistics speak for themselves; 4 victories and 20 stage wins (7 each in Greece and Finland and 3 apiece in Germany and France). What’s more, securing the WRC Academy series* completes a remarkable double for Elfyn, since he has already clinched the R2 category title in the British Rally Championship, in which he was also driving a Ford Fiesta.
* – Subject to official confirmation by the FIA
It’s a fantastic feeling! From the start of the year when we had a disasterous rally in Portugal, to turn around and have four wins in a row is just unbelievable. We were very careful this afternoon and it felt like it was a very, very long day, so I was very happy to see the end of the last stage.
We still have to concentrate for Spain in five weeks, because we have to gain valuable experience of the event for the future when, hopefully, we can return there in a big car!
Phil Pugh said:
It was pretty hard going today – Elfyn said he’d never driven so slowly – but he did a fantastic job and I’m really proud of him. He bounced back so well after Portugal and it was so, so hard for him but you can’t ask for much more. I’m chuffed to bits for him!
It started to rain just before the last stage and we had to chuck some intermediate tyres on the back really quickly, so we were pretty pumped up going into the stage. He drove brilliantly, though, and the celebrations started before we crossed the finish line.