Elfyn Evans claimed a dominant WRC2 victory at the season opening Rallye Monte-Carlo in the recently upgraded M-Sport Ford Fiesta R5 EVO.
The start of the rally wasn’t kind to the Welshman as he picked up a puncture on the first stage, with that out of the way it wasn’t long before he was back on pace and heading in to the lead of the class, out-pacing some of the WRC cars on the way.
A second puncture hit Evans and new co-driver Craig Parry on SS9 but once again they fought back to take the lead of the class, regularly beating their rivals by 20-30 seconds per stage, a feat that saw Evans finish more than two minutes ahead of Esapekka Lappi in his Skoda Fabia R5, all of this despite losing more than three minutes with the punctures.
“We’ve had a lot of fun this weekend and I’m pleased to have delivered such a strong result for the team,” said Evans. “It was a big weekend with the debut of the Fiesta R5 EVO and I think this result goes to prove the extent of the upgrades.
“I have to say that the car has been fantastic – beyond what we were all hoping for. The progress that the team have made is incredible and I think it underlines the fact that the Fiesta is the best car in the category.
“Of course it wasn’t an easy event for us – Monte-Carlo never is! I had a new co-driver – who did a great job all weekend – and a new car. If that wasn’t enough, we also suffered two punctures over the course of the event which certainly made things interesting!
“Once we had a good lead we backed off the pace to consolidate the win, but I think that we have proven what we are capable of. Now I’m really looking forward to Rally Sweden where I’m sure the competition will be tough!”
M-Sport Managing Director, Malcolm Wilson OBE was delighted with the new upgrades on the Fiesta R5 and Evans’ performance over the weekend.
“We could not have asked for more with the debut of the new evolution Fiesta R5 and Elfyn has driven brilliantly all weekend,” said Wilson. “To suffer two punctures and still win the rally by a significant margin is very impressive indeed.
“A great deal of work has gone into these upgrades and it is very satisfying to see such a positive result straight out of the box. The team have worked extremely hard and unlocked a massive increase of power which confirms our position at the head of the WRC 2 standings.
Since the last rally on the 2015 Wilson took the decision to drop Evans from the main WRC squad, asigning him WRC2 and MSA British Rally Championship duties as the team look to get the most of out the Welshman for the future.
“Moreover, the whole team are delighted to see Elfyn really enjoy his driving again. Last season was not the easiest for him and we were keen to see him regain the confidence that he had lost. Success is the best remedy for that and if he can keep up this level of performance then I think he will enjoy a lot of success this year.” added Wilson.