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WRC Rally Portugal

Evans feels “new ideas” are required after WRC Portugal struggles

Elfyn Evans says “some new ideas” are required after set-up struggles left the three-time World Rally Championship runner-up on the back foot in a weekend to forget in Portugal.

Elfyn Evans, Scott Martin, Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT Toyota GR Yaris Rally1

The Toyota driver felt that “everything he touched went wrong” last weekend as he witnessed his six-point deficit to championship leader Hyundai’s Thierry Neuville balloon to 24 points.

Evans’ difficulties began on Friday as he and his Toyota team-mates Sebastien Ogier, Kalle Rovanpera and Takamoto Katsuta struggled to find a balance with their GR Yaris Rally1 cars on the gravel stages. Compounded by starting second on the road, this dropped Evans down the leaderboard.

Co-driver Scott Martin then left his pacenote book at the stage six time control, forcing Evans to drive to notes being delivered from a digital copy on a mobile phone.

While the Welshman lost minimal time from the pacenotes, he conceded 52.6s to a puncture that left him in sixth at the end of Saturday.

A broken radiator put his rally at risk on Sunday and subsequently ended any chances of scoring extra points, leaving him with six Saturday points compared to Neuville’s total of 24.

Ahead of the rough gravel of Sardinia that hosts the WRC on 30 May- 2 June, Evans is hopeful his team can find a set-up solution to his Portugal struggles.

“The six points is the only positive,” Evans told Autosport.

“Of course, you want to forget the weekend, but we have to learn from it and be ready for the next one.

Elfyn Evans, Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT

Elfyn Evans, Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT

Photo by: Red Bull Content Pool

“It will be difficult now with the current testing situation, but we definitely need to come up with some new ideas for Sardinia.”

When asked if there was time to find a solution, he added: “Possibly.

“It is obviously a risk to take something without trying it, but maybe we need to look back to the past. We will see, we will discuss with the team.”

Toyota opted to conduct its pre-event Portugal test in Sardinia in order to prepare for the two gravel rallies, with test days limited under the FIA’s testing regulations.

Team principal Jari-Matti Latvala is however confident his cars will perform better in Sardinia. 

“On Saturday we could see we were improving with the performance of the car, so this was a good step forward,” Latvala told Autosport.

“I’m not so worried about Sardinia, but the biggest thing is we just need to stay on the road, because the current championship doesn’t allow you to do so many mistakes. The punishment is quite hard.”

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