Sat 05 Feb 2022

Evans: Too early to gauge Rally1 performance

Despite last month’s Rallye Monte-Carlo being largely dry, Elfyn Evans believes it could take a while to understand where the balance of power sits with the FIA World Rally Championship’s new Rally1 cars.

The 2022 season has brought the biggest technical shake-up in the 50-year history of the WRC and the Toyota Gazoo Racing star acknowledges it’s going to take a few events on different surfaces before a clear performance picture emerges.

A dry Monte-Carlo meant a fairly uniform tyre choice and offered a good indication of a fast car – but the intricacies of new hybrid power allied to the paring back of transmission and suspension technology means Evans is marshalling caution.

“Traditionally Portugal has always been the [performance] marker,” said Evans. “In the past you went to Monte, Sweden, Mexico and then Portugal was sort of the point where you knew where you stood.

“I guess with Croatia, we should already get a bit of a level there with an asphalt rally, but then of course you have the gravel.”

Vodafone Rally de Portugal in May is the first gravel fixture, with Rally Italia Sardegna following a fortnight later, but it’s mid-July in Estonia before the new cars are let loose on the fastest of fast dirt roads.

The Welshman added: “It’s going to be towards the end of the first half of the year I guess, where we get a true gauge of where everybody’s at.

“We don’t know exactly how we will fair because a lot of the rallies that come now are very specific. It’s early days and I don’t think it’s fair to write anyone off at this stage.”

Evans was within 10sec of the Monte lead when he slid off the road near the end of Saturday morning’s first pass of Saint-Geniez - Thoard. His GR Yaris was beached on the edge of a steep drop and he lost 20 minutes. He eventually finished out of the points in 21st.

“When you don’t have any points it’s never a positive but in terms of the car, in terms of the feeling, then it was a good weekend,” Evans added. “An encouraging weekend on some sides but I’m massively frustrated and disappointed to make an error that was so costly.

“It was always going to be a difficult rally. The testing was not vast coming in and, to be fair, I found a much happier place with the car during the event then what I did in testing, so thanks to the guys in the team. They put in a lot of effort to get this over the line.”

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