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Elfyn heads Down Under after success in Germany

Elfyn Evans and his co-driver Daniel Barritt have made the longest journey of the 2014 World Rally Championship campaign fresh from their fourth-place finish on the previous round, the ADAC Rallye Deutschland. Round ten of the 2014 WRC – the Coates Hire Rally Australia – marks M-Sport’s 250th WRC event and is one of the team’s most favoured hunting grounds.

Nestled on the subcontinent’s Gold Coast, the Australian fixture has played host to a number of M-Sport success stories and provides another technical challenge for the crews.

Those looking to be in the running for the top positions must quickly get back up to speed on gravel. Following the asphalt roads of Rallye Deutschland, the crews must reaffirm the art of gravel rallying – the nature of the road and the way the car handles through the loose terrain.

They must find the confidence to push through the fast, flowing roads and maintain a good rhythm as the route is interspersed with tighter, twistier sections. Finding the right balance between speed and caution is key – become over confident and too ambitious on the pre-event reconnaissance and you’ll pay the price. The route traverses dense rain forest and the trees that line the stages pose an ever-present threat – awaiting the smallest of mistakes.

The challenge has proved fruitful for M-Sport in the past – the Cumbrian firm securing victory on three separate occasions with Mikko Hirvonen. In the second of the two M-Sport Fiesta RS WRC cars, Elfyn Evans can certainly learn from his team mate’s extensive experience. The Welshman travels to Australia having produced one of his best ever performances at the wheel of a rally car in Germany, but won’t necessarily be looking for a repeat performance Down Under.

Rally Australia marks the final new event of the year for Evans but the youngster is no stranger to the Australian rally scene having piloted a Ford Fiesta R2 at last year’s National Capital Rally. The rally offers a completely different challenge and Elfyn and Daniel Barritt remain focussed on gaining the experience that will see them progress to an even higher level next year.

Elfyn said:

It’s another new event for us so the focus will be back on learning the stages and gaining as much experience as we can for next year. I do have some experience of the Australian rally scene having been lucky enough to contest the National Capital Rally with the Ford Fiesta R2 last year, but I think it’s fair to say that next week will be a completely different challenge!

We’ve been doing as much as we can to prepare. I watch the organisers’ videos as much as possible to get a feel for the stages but there really is nothing like the first-hand experience of returning to an event for the second or third time.

In that respect, I’ll be sure to have a chat with Mikko `{`Hirvonen`}`. He has so much experience of this event and has had a lot of success here. His advice has been really valuable for the new events and I hope we can feed off that again next week.

From what I know of the stages, it looks as though there will be no margin for error – especially in the tighter sections through the forests. For us, we just need to ensure that we make it to the end with the knowledge to move forward next year.

There will be a lot of crews with a point to prove, but if we can concentrate on our own event and gaining the experience that we are here to secure, then it will be a positive weekend for us.