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WRC Rally Sweden

Evans hopes WRC car confidence issues were Sweden-specific

Elfyn Evans is hopeful the car balance issues that sapped confidence in Rally Sweden are event-specific after struggling for outright pace at the World Rally Championship's only snow event. 

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

Photo by: McKlein / Motorsport Images

The Toyota driver battled with his GR Yaris across the snow rally resulting in the Welshman finishing a distant fifth, 1m24.0s behind winner M-Sport’s Ott Tanak.  

The lack of pace came as a surprise given Evans had challenged for the victory in Sweden, 12 months ago. 

Heading into the second round of the championship, Evans had shown strong pace behind the wheel of the 2023-specification GR Yaris in Monte Carlo, only for a puncture to end a likely podium result.

Last weekend, Evans admitted he didn’t have the confidence behind the wheel to challenge, but isn’t expecting this to be an issue when the championship returns to gravel in Mexico next month. 

“Well it is better than last year, actually not in terms of performance, but in terms of what I take from here. The points are still better than nothing at the end of the day, it could be worse,” Evans, the 2020 and 2021 WRC championship runner-up, told Autosport.

“I think, of course, relatively the pace has changed with the cars in 12 months. 

“I think if we brought last year’s car here for sure, that wouldn’t have been faster as things move on. 

“Mostly it was a car balance issue for myself, to be honest. That was the biggest point and when you don’t have that you struggle for confidence, and as you know with these fast rallies, it is all about confidence and if that is not with you, then it is difficult.

Elfyn Evans, Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT

Elfyn Evans, Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT

Photo by: McKlein / Motorsport Images

“I hope it is an event-specific thing. Certainly, in terms of balance I haven’t felt, let’s say, this level of unhappiness with the car on gravel before, so l’m not as concerned. But we will see from there.”

Asked about Evans’s performance in Sweden, Toyota WRC boss Jari-Matti Latvala added: “We know with Elfyn he has the ability to drive fast, he is a really fast driver, but I think he is sometimes very sensitive for the set-up.

“If the car is not there for them then it is difficult for him to get the best out of it."  

After witnessing Tanak score a win for M-Sport and Hyundai filling the remaining two positions on the Sweden podium through Craig Breen and Thierry Neuville, Evans expects this year’s title fight to turn into an intense battle between all three teams.   

“It is not a huge surprise as they [M-Sport and Hyundai] also had rallies last year where they were exceptionally strong and I think this year will be the same,” he added. 

“We saw in Monte Carlo the Toyota was pretty strong and I’m sure it is going to be a big battle like it has been for the last four or five years.” 

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