Mid-Wales and Toyota works driver Elfyn Evans secured a stunning third place on the famous Monte Carlo Rally yesterday.
Making his debut in the team, Evans applied steady pressure from the start on Thursday and found himself setting fastest times on some stages and leading the event in the morning of the final day as he battled with his team-mate Sebastien Ogier and other competitors.
But it was Thierry Neuville who delivered a stunning final day drive to score his first Rallye Monte-Carlo victory on Sunday – 12 months after missing out in the event’s closest-ever finish.
The Belgian won all four final-leg speed tests in the mountains above Monaco to charge from third, sealing a perfect weekend with maximum bonus points after winning the closing Wolf Power Stage by 0.016sec.
Last year Neuville was pipped by 2.2sec by French hero Sébastien Ogier. Revenge was sweet this time as the Hyundai i20 driver demoted Ogier and overnight leader Elfyn Evans to win the four-day opening round of the FIA World Rally Championship by 12.6sec.
Ogier overhauled Toyota Yaris team-mate Evans in the final speed test to finish 1.7sec ahead in second. Both drivers were making their Toyota Gazoo Racing debuts.
Afterwards, Evans, from Dolgellau, said it had been a positive weekend but for some reason “just didn’t click” on Sunday but had a good feeling with the new Yaris WRC car.
After such a rousing start to what promises to be another fiercely-fought series, this year’s World Rally Championship switches to the frozen forests of Sweden 13-16 February before the rival teams travel further afield to the gravel roads of Mexico and Argentina.
|Having moved back to a more traditional end-of-season date, Wales Rally GB Thursday 29 October to Sunday 1 November is the penultimate date on the 2020 WRC calendar. The event will once again be based in north Wales, with the majority of the spectacular speed tests set on the challenging tracks of the Welsh forests, widely acclaimed as some of the most demanding stages on the entire WRC calendar.|
Proton makes British Rally Championship return with Iriz R5
Malaysian car manufacturer Proton will return to Britain’s premier rallying series for the first time since 2016 this season as Ollie Mellors contests the British Rally Championship in a Mellors Elliot Motorsport [MEM] Proton Iriz R5 based in Derbyshire.
Mellors and co-driver Ian Windress are set to tackle all six rounds of the championship in a move that stamps the BRC as a pivotal role in their plans to reach the FIA World Rally Championship with the newly developed R5 machine.