Evans: Welsh asphalt could be key

Last year’s Dayinsure Wales Rally GB winner Elfyn Evans has predicted that the introduction of new asphalt road sections to this year’s competitive route could shake up the leaderboard when the event gets underway next week (4-7 October).

The 2018 route is significantly different to last year and features a number of new stages that have been created by linking classic Welsh gravel tests with sections of closed, asphalt roads.

In total, 6.59kms of asphalt has been added to the itinerary and M-Sport Ford World Rally Team driver Evans believes the new additions could have a big impact at his home event.

Friday’s new 29.13km Brenig stage for instance, is a combination of the former Brenig and Alwen tests. While Sunday’s familiar Gwydir stage, the location of the Live TV Power Stage, has doubled in length to 14.76km by using another section of closed public road.

“The new stages are quite a big change – especially on Friday,” the Welshman told WRC All Live’s Becs Williams. “They are a very different character to what we’ve seen in the past and the asphalt sections will be quite challenging I think as they are generally quite narrow.”

Evans claimed his maiden WRC win in Wales last year

Given the event’s reputation for wet and muddy conditions, Evans believes grip levels on the asphalt could vary enormously, with crews starting earlier in the road order avoiding mud and dirt dragged onto the road by cars behind.

“I’m not sure what the plan is to manage cutting, but I can imagine if the drivers in front are free to cut the roads could become very dirty, very, very quickly. It’ll be interesting to see how they evolve,” he said.

After a largely disappointing 2018 season so far, during which he has claimed just one podium finish, the 29-year-old hopes his luck will turn on home ground.

“It has genuinely not been a massively lucky season,” he acknowledged. “Some seasons you seem to be able to get away with everything – hit every bank, hit every stone, and nothing happens. This year when we hit stones we have wheel damage and when we hit banks we rip wheels off.”

Look for the full interview with Elfyn shortly on the wrc.com podcast section.

Head to WRC+ to watch All Live from Dayinsure Wales Rally GB, including every stage broadcast live, breaking service park news and expert studio analysis.

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