Thursday | 21 Oct 2021

Monza’s must-win showdown for Evans

Title-chasing Elfyn Evans admits he must win Italy’s closing round of the FIA World Rally Championship to pile the pressure on team-mate and points leader Sébastien Ogier.

The Welshman has slashed Ogier’s 44-point advantage to just 17 with victory in Finland earlier this month and second in Spain last weekend, setting up a final round decider at next month’s FORUM8 ACI Rally Monza (18 - 21 November).

The Toyota Yaris driver’s dream of a maiden world title perished at the Italian fixture last year when he crashed, allowing Ogier to secure his seventh crown. Evans knows he must turn the tables this time round.

“It’s quite clear what we have to do,” he acknowledged. “Seventeen points is a pretty big gap and we need to win and the Power Stage [bonus points] could be quite crucial. Ultimately it is going to take a mistake or an issue for Séb for us to be champions at the end.

Video: Rally RACC - Rally de España top 5 moments

“We are still alive and it’s a similar situation to last year with the shoe on the other foot. Anything can happen but we also know that Séb is a smart guy and it is going to take something pretty radical to overtake him.”

Evans led initially on Spain’s smooth asphalt speed tests in the Costa Daurada hills but could not fend off Thierry Neuville, who claimed his second victory of the campaign. Evans finished 24.1sec adrift of the Belgian and could not hide his frustration.

“It should have been more to be honest,” he said. “It is what it is. We know already some of the reasons why. Second is still a result and Thierry was very strong this weekend and we didn’t have the speed to match him. We need to make sure we are better prepared for Monza and can fight for the win.”

He pointed to deteriorating road conditions during the second pass of stages for not being able to replicate his pace on the initial runs.

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“The first pass, the road was very clean and we were able to use a bit of a racing car [line] and get a good feeling. Unfortunately, in the afternoon, when we had more gravel, I struggled to feel comfortable in the car and we had a big moment in the middle of a stage that was quite costly in terms of confidence.

“Then we were trying to work a way around the problems we had during Friday afternoon to make the car better. We made some small improvements but it ended up costing us the balance in the car which brought some understeer,” he explained.

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