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Elfyn returns to Sardinia with high hopes of another great result

Elfyn Evans will be seeking further success as the M-Sport World Rally Team gears up for Alghero and this week’s Rally Italia Sardegna. The sixth round of the FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) is an event that saw Elfyn finish in sixth place on his ‘full’ WRC debut last year, and the Welsh driver has his sights firmly set on another strong result.

Beyond the glitzy coastal glamour, Sardinia’s rugged mountains, ancient forests and unspoiled rural terrain make it ideal rallying territory. This year sees a move from the traditional base in Olbia to the western town of Alghero, but with 60 per cent of the stages unchanged the event has lost none of its charm.

Regarded as a technical challenge, the route may be narrow but it is also extremely fast. A thin layer of sandy gravel masks the harder surface beneath and the stages are lined with treacherous trees and rocks. Leaving little room for error, Rally Italia truly favours the brave.

Elfyn Evans harbours a soft spot for the Italian isle. Having made his world rally car debut at the event last year, this week’s outing provides the only rally of the year at which the Welshman has already experienced the power and performance of the Fiesta RS WRC.

Last year’s outing provided something of a novelty for the youngster. Plunged into the unknown, Evans tackled the rally for the first time with just three days preparation. With a new car and a new co-driver, he overcame all the odds. Eclipsing the efforts of the WRC’s most recent junior champions on their equivalent debuts, the Welshman secured a sensational sixth place finish which prompted his promotion to the WRC’s highest league for 2014.

But Elfyn won’t let the familiar circumstances draw his focus. Determined to continue his development, the youngster has been working hard to ensure that he is in the best possible position to continue his progression. Having studied all of his notes and onboard videos from the previous year, he also travelled out to Sardinia a little earlier than planned to best acclimatised to the high temperatures with a specially designed fitness regime.

Elfyn said:

It will be nice to go back to an event where I have already experienced the power and performance of a world rally car, but I’m not going to let that affect my focus too much. The plan is still to learn as much as we can whilst developing our speed at this level.

This year will certainly be easier than last year. Twelve months ago I was completely thrown into the unknown. I found out that I would be doing the rally three days before the recce began. I had never driven the Fiesta RS WRC in competition, I had never tackled the Sardinian stages and I had never had to adapt to a new co-driver quite that quickly!

Thankfully, we overcame all of that. Thanks to the hard work of the team and Giovanni `{`Bernacchini, co-driver`}`, we were able to secure a really good result and I think that is one of the reasons why I have been given this fantastic opportunity. Needless to say, this will always be a very special event for me.

Dan `{`Barritt, co-driver`}` and I have spent a lot of time since Argentina looking through all of the onboards and ensuring that my notes are as accurate as they can be. Forty per cent of the rally will be completely new, but for the familiar 60 per cent, I think that we are well prepared to continue progressing and developing our speed.

I also headed out to Sardinia a little earlier than planned to do some fitness training and really acclimatise to the heat. It’s fair to say that Sardinia is a little warmer than Cumbria at the moment, so it’s important for me to ensure that I am fully adjusted to the climate.