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Autosport Top 50 of 2023: #37 Elfyn Evans

2nd in the World Rally Championship

Top 50 2023 dotcom37

Top 50 Drivers of 2023

Autosport's team of expert journalists got together to try to assess who were the top 50 drivers of 2023. Here are the results.

Winless in 2022, Elfyn Evans bounced back in some fashion this season after finally gelling with the Toyota GR Yaris Rally1. The Welshman scored three wins and took the title fight to team-mate Kalle Rovanpera, but conceded the championship to the Finn at the penultimate round.

Evans ended a season that included only one retirement on a high, his fine drive to victory in Japan securing Toyota its first WRC triumph on home soil and matching Rovanpera’s seasonal win tally in the process.

An impressive drive to Rally Finland victory was arguably the highlight, putting Evans alongside Finnish greats Ari Vatanen and Timo Salonen as a two-time event winner.

WRC Finland report:

Could 2024 offer Evans his best shot at the WRC title? 

Evans is already being touted among the favourites to succeed Rovanpera as world rally champion next year after an impressive run to finish runner-up in 2023.  

The statistics from this season make for compelling reading compared to 12 months ago, when he struggled to get to grips with the new Rally1 hybrid machines. Evans was comfortably the year’s most improved driver, scoring a whopping 82 points more than his 2022 tally (from the same number of events), helped by wins in Croatia, Finland and Japan. It’s fair to say Evans has now found the elusive confidence behind the wheel of the GR Yaris that he previously lacked. 

Evans won in Finland for a second time this year as he unlocked the confidence he'd lacked in a winless 2022

Photo by: Toyota Racing

Evans won in Finland for a second time this year as he unlocked the confidence he'd lacked in a winless 2022

Now a three-time championship runner-up in 2020, 2021 and 2023, the next step is clear and next season could provide Evans his best opportunity yet to win the title. The news that two-time champion Rovanpera will contest only a part-time season in 2024 means Evans is likely to lead Toyota’s charge for the championship, with his chief rivals being Hyundai duo Ott Tanak and Thierry Neuville. 

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Evans has proven himself on all surfaces and now he has shown the ability to extract pace and consistency from the WRC’s benchmark car. Should these factors continue into 2024 then expect Evans to be in the running to end a WRC title drought for British drivers dating back to 2001, but he’s not making any assumptions.     

“I’m pleased with the progress at least, as we were not in such a strong position in 2022 which was frustrating coming off the back of the progress made in 2020 and 2021,” said Evans. “It is nice to have some good momentum now and at least things are moving in the right direction. 

"Often the set-up I wanted to achieve led to a few surprises, but now we can get the car to work and make it consistent and predictable at the same time" Elfyn Evans

“It is mostly confidence in the car I would say. There were a lot of surprises for me in 2022 with the car and let’s say getting it in the window I wanted meant we were finding our way with it.

“Often the set-up I wanted to achieve led to a few surprises, but now we can get the car to work and make it consistent and predictable at the same time. This allows you to drive at the high level while having the progression and the ability to control it.  

“Of course, [being in the title fight] is always the aim but next year starts on zero points so you start over again and take nothing for granted. Everybody is always moving forward and improving all the time.

“We can’t assume that because things have ended on a high that things will be rosy in Monte. We have to keep working.”  

 
Evans has proven his abilities on all surfaces and is now expected to lead Toyota's title challenge as Rovanpera joins Ogier in running a partial programme

Photo by: Red Bull Content Pool

Evans has proven his abilities on all surfaces and is now expected to lead Toyota's title challenge as Rovanpera joins Ogier in running a partial programme

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