Great Britain countdown: Rally rewind
Kicking off our build up to Dayinsure Wales Rally GB, we take a look back at 2017 and a thrilling drive by proud Welshman Elfyn Evans who became the first Brit to win his home rally since Richard Burns in 2000. Here’s how he did it…
Friday 27 October
At the wheel of his Ford Fiesta, Evans mastered the slippery forest stages of Mid-Wales to lead Ott Tänak, also in a Fiesta, by 24.6sec after winning half of the day’s six stages.
Estonian Tänak struggled for balance in his car but maintained second over his M-Sport Ford World Rally Team team-mate Sébastien Ogier. Ogier claimed just one stage win on Friday, but kept his challenge for a fifth world title on track by staying ahead of chief rival Thierry Neuville in fourth.
Hyundai driver Neuville had a frustrating opening leg. He was penalised 10 seconds for checking into Thursday’s Super Special Stage a minute late, suffered a stall on the Myherin test and struggled to hear his pace notes when co-driver Nicolas Gilsoul lost his voice.
Saturday 28 October
Evans remained on course to claim a maiden WRC win, winning five stages in a row to open up a 53.1sec lead.
Behind him, the order was shaken up as his rivals hit trouble when thick fog descended on the evening’s stages.
Ogier emerged from the gloom in second place - but only just. Unsighted on the penultimate stage, he hit a stone - puncturing his front-left tyre and damaging his brakes. A swift roadside repair allowed him to reach end-of-day service.
Tänak was caught out by the lack of visibility and plunged to sixth, behind Jari-Matti Latvala and Andreas Mikkelsen. But with a tight battle at the top, he finished just 13sec down on Ogier.
Also struggling in the fog was Neuville. Two stage wins enabled the i20 driver to climb to second, but he slipped to third by 0.5sec when he struggled to see the road in the final two stages.
Sunday 29 October
Evans wrapped up victory with a careful drive through the final stages, claiming his first WRC win on home ground, six months after missing the opportunity in Argentina by just 0.7sec.
Neuville won two of the day’s five tests to move above Ogier into second, 37.3sec behind Evans. But third-place for Ogier, and two bonus points on the Live TV Power Stage, was enough for him to secure a fifth-consecutive title with a round to spare.
The pair’s success also secured the manufacturers’ title for M-Sport Ford to cap off a winning weekend for the British squad.
Mikkelsen took two stage wins to move up to fourth, relegating Toyota driver Latvala to fifth.
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