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WRC Rally Italy

Toyota: Evans "thinking too much" about WRC title race

Toyota World Rally Championship boss Jari-Matti Latvala believes Elfyn Evans is thinking about the title race too much, and the team needs to find a way to relax its driver.

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

Evans has cut a frustrated figure throughout this week’s Rally Sardinia, having been unable to find the confidence to extract the ultimate pace from his Toyota GR Yaris on the gravel stages.

After finishing sixth in Portugal last month, the Welshman's struggles for speed have continued into Sardinia to leave Evans adrift of the victory fight.

A puncture on Friday cost Evans time, but he was already struggling to find a rhythm. The two-time championship runner-up also found the going tough in Saturday’s stages, but problems for others boosted him to fourth at the end of the day, albeit 2m43.3s behind team-mate and rally leader Sebastien Ogier.

Latvala believes that part of the struggles stem from the pressure of the title fight which is restricting Evans from driving naturally.

“Everyone knows he is capable of winning events; he has been so close to winning the championship [previously], I just feel maybe lately he has been taking a bit too much pressure of the championship,” said the Finn.

“I know from myself as a driver that when you start to think about it, you lose your natural ability to drive, and your mind starts to take over and you don’t drive naturally.

“He is thinking too much about the situation in the championship. We just need to find a way to relax him more and get the enjoyment for the driving back.

“I do however respect that when it doesn’t go well, he is still consistent. Personally, myself what I did was when it didn’t go well, I attacked more and then I ended up crashing.

Jari-Matti Latvala, Team principal Toyota Gazoo Racing

Jari-Matti Latvala, Team principal Toyota Gazoo Racing

Photo by: Toyota Racing

“But of course, you cannot win the championship without victories.”

Reflecting on his day, Evans said: “It’s very frustrating at the moment, we’re not feeling at one with everything.

“We always knew this could happen going into the weekend, but we still want more.

“How things were in Portugal were a tell-tale sign of things to come, but also some other stuff.”

While Sardinia has been difficult for Evans, a retirement for championship leader Thierry Neuville from third on the final stage of the morning loop offered a positive. If Evans can finish the rally tomorrow, he stands to claim 10 points for finishing fourth on Saturday while Neuville, who holds a 24-point championship lead, would fail to score.

“There is no satisfaction in what we have done, but at the same time [the points] is something,” added Evans.

Rally Sardinia concludes following four stages on Sunday.

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