Thursday | 04 May 2017

Rally Argentina: Debrief part 2

In the second part of our look back at YPF Rally Argentina, we focus on the two special stages when the pendulum swung in Thierry Neuville’s favour and when Elfyn Evans became Mr Feisty.

Turning Point of the Rally
For 13 stages, Evans’ name was writ large on the winners’ trophy. He dominated Friday, stretched his lead to more than a minute on Saturday morning and was 45sec clear, despite two punctures, with just two more afternoon tests and Sunday’s three-stage finale remaining.

Then it all started to unravel in the second pass through the long Los Gigantes - Cantera El Condor and Boca del Arroyo - Bajo del Pungo stages.

The loss of his Ford Fiesta’s rear aero diffuser deprived the Welshman of downforce and confidence. He yielded more than 15sec in the first of those two tests, and almost 19sec in the next with a spin. Neuville won both and the gap was down to 11.5sec as a thrilling Sunday awaited.

Save of the Rally
Kris Meeke’s roll out of second place on Friday morning left his Citroën C3 in a sorry and battered state. The damage was pretty comprehensive. The team worked wonders to rebuild it and send the car out on Saturday looking in fine fettle – and working well enough for Meeke to win two stages.

Sadly, a few hours later the C3 looked even worse than the previous day after the biggest accident of Meeke’s career, when he rolled eight times.

Elfyn Evans - faced up to Thierry Neuville's challenge

You’ll Never Believe It
Glorious sunshine during the rally enabled fans to bask in temperatures touching 26°C as blue skies and stunning pampas offered picture postcard scenery. Rewind to Tuesday’s recce and snow in the El Condor mountains forced the WRC cavalcade to park up for 30 minutes to allow the slushy main roads to clear.

Quote of the Rally
During his first WRC spell with M-Sport World Rally Team, Elfyn Evans was quiet, reserved and perhaps even in awe of his deserved place among the championship elite.

He’s come back a different man, with a confident attitude and more mature outlook. Having just witnessed Neuville wipe out a huge chunk of his lead on Saturday afternoon, the Evans of old might have prepared to settle for the seemingly inevitable.

This time? Not a bit of it. “We didn’t come here to finish second after all this work, so if he wants the win, he’s going to have to bloody fight for it!” was his response. We loved it! More of the same please, Elfyn.

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