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Elfyn prepares to head for the WRC’s only mixed-surface event

Elfyn Evans will tackle the World Rally Championship’s penultimate round, the Rally RACC Rallye de España, in confident mood after strong performances on both the two previous European rounds.

Celebrating its 50th anniversary, the Spanish fixture is the FIA World Rally Championship’s only true dual surface event and both Elfyn and his teammate Mikko Hirvonen are well prepared for the challenges ahead.

Following an opening super special stage in the company of Barcelona’s famous Montjuïc fountains, the crews embark on a day of predominantly gravel speed tests before making the move to asphalt for the remainder of the event.

For those looking to challenge for the top positions, a swift transition from one surface to the next is paramount. Get lost in discovering the optimum set-up or driving style for the smooth, circuit-like roads and the potential time loss could prove pivotal.

Thankfully, the M-Sport team conducted a thorough pre-event test on the Spanish Tarmac to ensure that both its crews will be fully prepared to attack the black-top stages of the event’s decisive final stages.

But it’s not just the drivers who have a chance to shine this weekend, as M-Sport’s dedicated team of expert technicians are assigned with the task of converting each Ford Fiesta RS WRC from gravel to Tarmac specification in just 75 minutes.

On Friday evening the team will transform its cars – lowering the ride height and changing a number of components such as the suspension, brakes, gearbox, rear differential, steering rack and cross members. The intricate process provides each crew with a car that can perform at the highest level on each variation of the event’s diverse nature – equipping the team’s drivers with the means to chase a strong haul of points on the Costa Daurada.

Elfyn has past experience of the Spanish fixture, having contested the event as part of the FIA WRC Academy and WRC 2 category in 2012 and 2013 respectively. The Welshman has shown some impressive pace behind the wheel of his Fiesta RS WRC on asphalt and will be equally as keen to showcase his full potential on the loose surface terrain of the WRC’s penultimate round.

Elfyn said:

We’ve not had a massive amount of luck at this rally, but it’s one that I enjoy and I hope that we can turn that around next week. I’m up for the challenge and will hopefully be able to take another step forward.

It can be a bit strange going from one surface to the next as the car goes from being quite loose `{`on gravel`}` to feeling as though it’s on rails `{`on asphalt`}`. That feeling generally only lasts for one stage; you soon get into the groove and if you’ve had a good test and deciphered the best set-up for the Tarmac stages, it’s not too much of a drama.

The Spanish Tarmac is very different from what we have previously experienced in Germany and France. It’s a lot wider and smoother. It poses its own challenges, but we had a positive test so let’s see what we can do. It’s hard to tell how everyone will fair until we get to the event and see who has determined the best set-up for the new tyres on these different roads, but we learnt a lot and the feeling is positive.

We’ve shown some promising pace on asphalt this year and to be fair our speed on gravel hasn’t been bad either. We’ve shown some good pace on individual splits, but it would be good to see that translated over a full stage distance. I don’t have any specific goals in mind, but if I can do that and challenge some of the more experienced guys on both surfaces, then I think it could be another good event for us.