This month’s Monte Carlo Rally (January 24-27) marks the start of a pivotal World Championship campaign for Welsh rally driver Elfyn Evans.
After scoring his maiden victory on home soil at the end of 2017, the 30-year-old from Dolgellau by his own admission endured a frustrating follow-up season with a combination of accidents, punctures, mechanical maladies and team orders restricting him to just a pair of podium results and a disappointing seventh position in the final 2018 drivers’ standings.
Despite those setbacks, the Welshman now finds himself promoted to team leader at the M-Sport Ford World Rally Team following the departure of reigning champion Sébastien Ogier (and Red Bull sponsorship) to rival team Citroën.
As Ogier proved in capturing back-to-back World Championship titles, the M-Sport prepared Fiesta RS WRC is a proven winner, so the pressure is very much on Evans to deliver in his new-look, nitrous blue liveried Ford (photos top below).
“There’s always pressure but this is a great opportunity and I’m really excited to get going and to get back on track,” he asserted.
“There were various reasons why last year didn’t go as we hoped. The first half of the season was very, very difficult but the second half of the year was much, much stronger and we showed good speed – now I’m looking to carry that forward, displaying that speed more consistently and being competitive every weekend,” said Evans who has a new co-driver this year with Scott Martin – most recently co-driver for Irishman Craig Breen – replacing Dan Barritt.
“Hopefully we can have a lot of success together. We are starting 2019 with a fresh page and a determination to get on with it. We have to aim high, do the best possible job and to fight for rally wins. Winning is definitely the aim.”
Evans would obviously love to win Wales Rally GB again, when the soon to start 2019 World Rally Championship battle reaches these shores on the 3-6 October.
“I’m definitely looking forward to being back in Wales,” he grinned. “It’s always an incredible event and one that’s obviously very special to me for lots of memorable reasons now.”
Tickets for this year’s Wales Rally GB will go on sale in the spring when the 2019 competitive route is announced.
2019 FIA WORLD RALLY CHAMPIONSHIP
24-27 January Monte Carlo Rally
14-17 February Rally Sweden
07-10 March Rally Guanajuato Mexico
28-31 March Tour de Corse (France)
25-28 April YPF Rally Argentina
09-12 May COPEC Rally Chile
30 May-02 June Vodafone Rally de Portugal
13-16 June Rally Italia Sardinia
01-04 August Neste Rally Finland
22-25 August ADAC Rally Germany
12-15 September Rally Turkey
03-06 October Wales Rally GB
24-27 October Rally Spain
14-17 November Kennards Hire Rally Australia