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WRC Central Europe Rally

Evans: Only takes one slip up to turn WRC title race

Elfyn Evans will try to keep the pressure on World Rally Championship rival Kalle Rovanpera at this weekend’s Central European Rally in a bid to keep his title hopes alive.

Takamoto Katsuta, Aaron Johnston, Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT NG Toyota GR Yaris Rally1, Kalle Rovanperä, Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT, Elfyn Evans, Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT

The Toyota driver heads into the all-new asphalt rally knowing he must outscore his team-mate to take the championship fight to the final round in Japan next month.

Evans trails Rovanpera by 31 points ahead of this weekend’s penultimate round, which will present a new challenge to crews, who will travel across borders to tackle stages in the Czech Republic, Germany and Austria.

Evans was 55 points adrift of Rovanpera following the latter’s domination of Rally Estonia in July. But victory for Evans in Finland after Rovanpera crashed out of the lead brought the Welshman back into the title fight as the gap reduced to 25 points, before it was increased again to 31 following events in Greece and Chile.

The 2020-2021 WRC title runner-up knows he has to produced two strong rallies to stand any chance of winning the title, but is aware that a small mistake this weekend could turn the title race on its head.

“Of course there is two rounds to go now in the championship, it is not done yet even though there is quite a big gap to Kalle in front so anything can happen," said Evans.

“We know how things change quickly in this game and we will be trying everything we can, but of course we need two very strong rallies, and we never hope for bad luck on anybody, but realistically we need some issues or bad luck for Kalle to bring us back into contention.

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

Photo by: Toyota Racing

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

“But we will keep trying and put the pressure on and see what happens.”

Evans has been in a similar position back in 2021 when he managed to reel in team-mate Sebastien Ogier to take the championship battle down to the wire in Monza.

Ultimately, Evans could only finish second behind rally winner Ogier in Italy, handing an eighth world title to his rival.

“In 2021 when we were fighting against Seb we also had quite a massive deficit heading into Finland and then it gradually came down in the last few rounds,” he added.

“In some ways it is a bit similar but of course it didn’t turn out so well that year neither.

“Nonetheless, we will keep trying and we know in this game it only takes on slip up to change things on its head and in other directions, so we just have to keep positive and do the best we can.”

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The Central European Rally will comprise 18 stages over four days, with the action beginning in the Czech Republic on Thursday and Friday. The rally will then cross the border into Austria and Germany on Saturday, ahead of a final day in Germany on Sunday.

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