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WRC Rally Croatia

Breakthrough WRC win leaves Evans with mixed emotions

Elfyn Evans has “mixed emotions” following an important drought-ending World Rally Championship win in Croatia just days after the passing of friend and rival Craig Breen.

Elfyn Evans, Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT

The Toyota driver scored a first WRC win since Finland in October 2021 after he and co-driver Scott Martin came through to chalk up a comfortable 27.0s victory over M-Sport’s Ott Tanak on Croatia’s asphalt stages.

Evans labelled the win as “insignificant” after he crossed the finish line at the final stage, as the rally community mourns the loss of factory Hyundai driver Breen who died in a crash while preparing for this weekend’s event.

Reflecting on the moment, Evans admitted he was relieved to return to the top step of the podium, but says he is proud by how the rally community has pulled together to pay tribute to Breen, and that his thoughts are now with the Irishman’s family.

“Pretty mixed emotions obviously and it is back to the reality now after being fully focused on the rally weekend,” Evans, who has now won a WRC round on all surfaces, told Autosport.

“It is pretty difficult to know what is the right thing to say. It is had been a tough week for everybody.

“The whole WRC family can be proud of how everyone has come together and paid tribute to Craig. It is a great showing of his character and how liked he was around the service park.

“The competition went on as usual, it is for sure what Craig would have wanted. We went to see the family last week and it was their wish that we made sure to enjoy ourselves. We promised that we would and we are able to do that, but now it is all over our thoughts turn to them now.

“It was definitely important to get this on the board. I’m obviously relieved from that side but it is much more positive start overall this year than last year.”

WRC crews seen paying tribute to driver Craig Breen

WRC crews seen paying tribute to driver Craig Breen

Photo by: Red Bull Content Pool

Co-driver Martin dedicated the victory to Breen, whom he navigated for from 2014-2018, a period that included the pair’s first WRC podium in Finland in 2016.

“It is really emotional. The emotions, I managed to keep tucked away for most of the weekend but crossing the finish line they all came flooding through,” Martin told Autosport.

“As we know it has hit the rally community hard and we were all together really and got through this together, and it is really nice and special to win it. It is something I will never forget.

“100% this is for him. He has been with us, with me watching over us all this weekend. I can’t put it into words how special it is. I think it will take a few days, weeks and months for it all to soak in.”

Toyota boss Jari-Matti Latvala felt Evans and Martin were the rightful pair to win this event given the recent tragic events that has left the rally world numb.

“Coming to this rally it was very difficult for the whole rally community and there are two aspects of note,” Latvala told Autosport.

“First we managed to get through this event safely with no drama or big accidents and that is something we didn’t want to see especially after losing Craig.

“The second thing was the best pair to win this event was absolutely Elfyn Evans and Scott Martin. This is not the team perspective but my personal view.

“Elfyn and Craig were friends, and Scott was Craig’s former co-driver, so they were definitely the best pair to win this event.”

Evans is tied for the WRC championship lead with Toyota team-mate Sebastien Ogier, who is contesting a partial season.

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