Thu 01 Feb 2024

“Mental” - Evans’ buzz from fan-packed Thursday in Monte-Carlo

Tens of thousands of spectators braved sub-zero temperatures to bring in the new WRC season last Thursday - and Elfyn Evans was the first driver to experience their welcome.

Deep in the French Alps and at more than 1000m above sea level, the iconic Les Tourniquets hairpins were alive with the roar of passionate flag-waving fans, fireworks and hybrid-powered Rally1 cars driving at full chat in the dark.


Evans was opening the road in his Toyota GR Yaris Rally1 and the reception he received as he navigated the narrow Alpine passes left the Welshman almost speechless.


“It was mental,” he smiled. “There’s nothing else like it on the calendar and, yes, it’s a bit mad, but I’m happy that we’re able to experience this.”


Evans won both of Thursday’s night-time speed tests to build an impressive 16.1-second overnight advantage.


He remained in the lead for more than half of the rally until hybrid issues, combined with the escalating pace of Thierry Neuville and Sébastien Ogier, forced him to settle for a third-place finish.

Evans considers a podium at the season opener to be a successful fulfilment of his pre-rally objectives.


“It’s impossible to judge how well or how badly you’re doing,” Evans said when asked whether he’d been surprised by his early pace. “I really just wanted to get through Thursday cleanly but, when I started driving, it all seemed to go alright so I sort of carried on with that.


“I’d set my target [for the rally] as a podium at minimum really, but the most important thing is always to finish Monte. If you start the season with a DNF, it’s always tricky to recover ground. It’s nice to start the year with a solid result.”


Although Hyundai’s Thierry Neuville won the rally, the performances of Evans and team-mate Ogier mean that Toyota heads the Korean marque by a single point in the manufacturers’ championship ahead of next month’s Rally Sweden (15 – 18 February).

Starts: Thursday, July 18, 2024 at 4:31:00 AM
Starts: Friday, July 26, 2024 at 7:00:00 AM
Starts: Saturday, July 27, 2024 at 6:00:00 AM