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WRC Central Europe Rally

Evans outlines regrets after WRC title defeat to Rovanpera

Elfyn Evans says his Portugal crash and struggles for pace in Estonia are his biggest regrets this season following his World Rally Championship title defeat to Toyota team-mate Kalle Rovanpera.

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

Evans witnessed his hopes of a maiden world title evaporate for another season last weekend at the Central European Rally. 

The Welshman admitted prior to the event that his title prospects were slim, but the title fight would have gone down to the season finale in Japan next month if he'd outscored Rovanpera on the asphalt stages.

Ultimately a crash for Evans on stage 11 opened the door for Rovanpera to seal back-to-back titles, the Finn cruising through the final tests to finish second behind Hyundai’s Thierry Neuville.

However Evans, who claimed wins in Croatia and Finland, feels the title race could have been different had he not crashed out of sixth when he was leading the championship standings in Portugal. 

He also believes finishing only fourth in Estonia was a missed opportunity given his speed on similar gravel roads in Finland.

“Sure during the season [I have regrets],” Evans told Autosport. “I mean Portugal, and while it was a really big crash, it was a bit of a stupid crash.

“Sometimes being brave is okay, but stupid brave is not so bright, so that was one. I think there are a few areas that we definitely could have done better. 

“I look back, I’m kicking myself about Estonia because if I had the feeling I had with the car in Finland, it could have been very, very different. 

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

Photo by: McKlein / Motorsport Images

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

“Finland came so easy and yet Estonia was such a struggle. If we had found that car two weeks earlier it would have helped a lot.”

Although disappointed to miss out on the title, Evans says Rovanpera fully deserved a second consecutive championship, labelling his rival’s campaign as an “incredible season”.

“First and foremost, I want to say congratulations to Kalle. He has driven an incredible season and he deserves it,” he added.

“From our side we knew it was a slim chance. We had to try and it didn’t work out unfortunately and it has put us under more pressure from Neuville [who is now seven points behind Evans in the standings], but at the end of the day it is only the championship that really matters. 

“Here [at the Central European Rally] on Friday there was no chance to follow Kalle because I think the road position gave you an advantage of about five seconds per stage. 

“Of course he drove better still, so clearly there is something to take away from that, but we also know how good he is in these difficult conditions, his style seems to suit it very well. 

“At least things are moving in the right way. Even from my side there has been more progress on tarmac at this rally, and I know we won Croatia, but we had a bit better form here.”

Evans is however pleased by the upward trajectory of his form compared to last season when he struggled to gel with the GR Yaris. 

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

“I keep saying things are moving to be better,” he said. “Almost two years ago it was dire, so at least things are moving in the right way.

“It is just the feeling of confidence and getting the car to do a bit more of what I want.

“It's not like I have gone in a completely direction to everybody else it was that I just couldn’t cope with the things that were happening at the beginning [in 2022] when the others could.

"From this year onwards, things have been pretty good with the car and I’m still improving all the time.” 

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