Elfyn Evans says he “cannot afford too many more mistakes” as he looks to ignite his World Rally Championship campaign when the series resumes in Croatia next week.
Article by Tom Howard, Motorsport.Com, Photo by: Toyota Racing
The Toyota driver has endured a difficult start to the WRC’s new hybrid era sitting 13th in the championship standings after scoring four points from the opening two rallies in Monte Carlo and Sweden.
Evans, who finished runner-up to Sebastian Ogier in the last two WRC seasons, was on course for a podium in Monte Carlo when he clipped an embankment, ending any hopes of a solid points haul.
The Welshman was locked in a battle with teammate Kalle Rovanpera for victory at Rally Sweden in February before his event unfolded when he was hit with a penalty for a wild finish to Saturday’s final stage. He then crashed out on Sunday morning and was unable to rejoin for rally ending the power stage after his GR Yaris suffered a hybrid failure.
Heading into next week’s Rally Croatia, Evans is eager to kick-start his season to breath life into his championship aspirations.
The 33-year-old has form on Croatia’s asphalt roads after finishing second on the event’s WRC debut last year, losing the win by 0.6s to Ogier.
“Of course it has not been the start of the year we wanted by a long way, so we need to get off to a strong start in Croatia,” said Evans, who is 42 points behind championship leader Rovanpera.
“It is not going to be an easy rally, we will focus on doing the best we can and see if we can come away with some good points.
“We have to look forward but we also know that we cannot afford too many other mistakes, that is quite clear. You have to focus on the performance ahead of us and driving it as well as possible.
“It is true that the rally last year for us was a good one. I think there were certain loops perhaps where we struggled where we made some set up changes that didn’t quite suit us.
Last week Evans joined the Toyota squad for a pre-event test in Croatia to run through a detailed test programme, revealing that the development of the new GR Yaris is progressing on tarmac.
“It was nice to be back in the car, it has been a long break,” he added.
“We had a quick test on gravel but it is nice to be back on tarmac and so far we have been working through some options. It has been a particularly slippy road which is like what we will have at Rally Croatia. It is a good place to do some work.
“I think everything is starting to feel a bit more normal now with these new cars but of course we want to continue improving.
“We have been working through some options, some positive some not so, but that is part of testing. It is nice to see some progress coming.”
Rally Croatia begins with shakedown next Thursday, April 21.