Elfyn recovers brilliantly from first-day dramas in Finland
Elfyn Evans and co-driver Daniel Barritt recovered from broken rear suspension on the first leg of Rally Finland to not only finish the rally, but also score valuable Manufacturer points for the M-Sport team. The result, combined with the fifth place scored by Ott Tanak, keeps the team in contention for second place in the FIA World Rally Championship.
Elfyn and Dan ran wide and broke their Fiesta’s rear suspension on ‘Finland’s biggest rock’ through the first pass of ‘Ouninpohja’ (SS4) on Friday morning.
A less determined driver would have called it a day, but Elfyn affected what the team later referred to as ‘a genius repair’ that saw him safely through all of the stages. Cleverly using his Snap-On spanner from the in-car toolkit to reinforce the broken suspension arm, the fix lasted six stages and allowed Evans to experience the entire route – something that could prove vital in years to come.
Unfortunately, his time loss was more severe than that of his team mate Ott Tanak, who had earlier broken his front suspension but also managed to continue, and so the Welshman found himself with little hope of breaking back into the top-ten.
Embarking on the final day of competition, the crews had to master a new configuration of a Finnish classic – two high-speed runs through a daunting 14.13 kilometres of ‘Myhinpää’. Both the M-Sport crews made it through the test unscathed to finish the rally and, more importantly, claim the vital Manufacturer points for the team.
Hitting a rock is never a very clever thing to do, but I think we did well to get through all of Friday’s stages. I didn’t know if it would be possible with six stages and broken rear suspension, but we persevered and were rewarded with some good experience from all of the stages.
There’s no other event on the calendar like Finland, so experience really does count for a lot and I think we can be happy with the progress we’ve made from this time last year. The pace was there or there abouts and I can see where there are areas for improvement. We’ve still got work to do, so if we can improve by half again then we’ll be challenging right at the top next year.
Team Principal, Malcolm Wilson OBE, said:
When you consider what Ott and Elfyn could have achieved this weekend there is of course a little disappointment. But on the other hand it’s fantastic to see both cars at the end of the rally.
On Friday morning I really didn’t think it would be possible, but Elfyn’s road-side repair was incredible and the whole team worked hard to ensure we salvaged good points that keep us in contention for second place in the manufacturers’ championship.
We’ve seen some great times from both drivers throughout the weekend which is really encouraging – especially when you consider that they weren’t taking the same risks as the front runners.
We’ll turn our attention to Germany now where I think we can be strong. Elfyn proved that he could be competitive there last year, and hopefully it will provide us with an opportunity to close the gap.