Podium finish rounds off amazing year for Elfyn Evans
Accompanied for the first time on an Academy round by new co-driver Seb Marshall, Elfyn made a cautious start to the year’s only mixed-surface rally. A puncture on stage 3 cost the pair over two minutes, with damage caused by the puncture then requiring work at the lunchtime service halt. The repairs took longer than expected, which resulted in the Fiesta leaving service four minutes late and so incurred a 40 second penalty. Their luck finally improved in the afternoon, with the British pair setting the second-quickest time on stage 4 and then the fastest time on stage 5. At the end of the first day Elfyn and Seb were third, but were happy to have survived the muddy conditions relatively unscathed.
After their mechanics had switched the Fiesta from gravel to asphalt specification, Day 2 then saw the pair suffer another puncture on the opening stage. Stopping to change it cost another two minutes, although they kept their third place. Despite a gap of over five minutes to fourth place, Elfyn had clearly decided that the opportunity to gain experience of the Spanish stages was too good to pass up and was fastest on two of the afternoon’s three stages and second quickest on the other by just six-tenths of a second.
The result rounds off an incredible year for Elfyn. Still only 23, he secured the WRC Academy title* with one round remaining, winning four events and setting 23 fastest stage times in the process. In the British Rally Championship, Elfyn won both the R2 category and the Fiesta SportTrophy and so the young Welshman succeeded in achieving his aims in both the WRC and BRC.
* – Subject to official confirmation by the FIA
We had a difficult start to Day 2 when we had a puncture early on the first stage and we had to stop and change it, so we weren’t in a position to challenge for second place. We then concentrated on getting the best out of ourselves and improving the relationship between Seb and me even further and I think we managed to do that. In the afternoon, we set two fastest times and a second-quickest and so there are lots of positives we can take away from Spain. It’s been a difficult and frustrating rally at times, but third place isn’t a bad way to round the year off!
Seb Marshall said:
This is a hugely challenging event for both driver and co-driver normally, so this as a first event for a new partnership has been a bit tricky. Having said that, we came through it well and it was great to get experience of the stages and compete on such a difficult event. Hopefully the experience will stand us in good stead for the future.