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Frustrating end to promising Rally Sweden debut for Elfyn

A promising run on the second round of the 2014 FIA World Rally Championship, Rally Sweden, unfortunately came to naught for Elfyn Evans. Despite never having competed on the rally before, and on only his second event as team-mate to Mikko Hirvonen in the M-Sport World Rally Team, Elfyn ran in the top ten for much of the event and looked to be on course to finish in ninth place. Unfortunately for Evans, an untimely off on the final stage cost him what could have been a points-paying finish.

Evans and co-driver Daniel Barritt came tantalisingly close to achieving their aim of making it through all 24 stages unscathed. Having never contested a full-snow rally with Michelin’s studded tyres, the Welshman made the most of his debut – learning the rally and developing his skills as he went.

Building knowledge and confidence with each stage, Evans’ focussed on seconds per kilometre as opposed to an overall result and it was encouraging to see that his pace improved throughout the weekend – showcasing his speed with the occasional split to challenge the front-runners.

Regrettably, his hard work was to go unrewarded on the final speed test. Sliding wide in the treacherous conditions, his Fiesta RS WRC hit one of the predatory snow banks. With damage to the radiator there was no hope of making it back to service and the Welshman was forced to make an untimely retirement.

Regardless of the outcome, Evans has secured a wealth of experience in what were far from ideal Rally Sweden conditions – a fact which sets him up nicely for another new challenge when he crosses the Atlantic for Rally Mexico in three weeks’ time.

Elfyn said:

We were achieving what we wanted from the event – improving the pace and on course for what would have been a good result for us – so it is really disappointing that it had to finish the way that it did.

We were going into a corner that tightened, but unfortunately I didn’t have that marked in the notes. It wasn’t a very high-speed incident by all means, but the back end stepped out and after that there wasn’t a lot we could do to save it. We went off the road and damaged the radiator.

It is extremely disappointing to end the event like this, but at least we got through the majority of the stages. It was a good event in terms of gaining experience, so now we just need to take that forward and move onto the next one.

Team Principal, Malcolm Wilson OBE, said:

It was a real shame to see Elfyn `{`Evans`}` stopped on the final stage. He got caught out on a really fast, tricky section. He may not have finished the rally, but I am pleased that he has completed the majority of the distance. It’s what he needed to do to get the experience for the future and it is all part of his development. It is just a shame that we lost some valuable points.