Elfyn Evans fights back to fourth in Italy Rally

Elfyn Evans fights back to fourth in Italy Rally

14.06.2015: M-Sport World Rally Team’s Elfyn Evans fought back to secure a strong




M-Sport World Rally Team’s Elfyn Evans fought back to secure a strong fourth place at this weekend’s Rally Italia. Team mate Ott Tänak had been on course for a podium finish until an issue with the transmission dropped him outside of the top-ten on Saturday afternoon.


Rally Italia is an event that demands respect, and that is something that Evans and co-driver Daniel Barritt fully understand. It is one thing to be fast in Sardinia, but it is quite another to be clever and a purely flat-out approach rarely reaps the rewards.
 

Evans always competes with an air of intelligence in his driving and that faired him well this weekend. The Welshman may have lost more than three minutes to the leaders with a driveshaft issue on Friday morning, but he stormed through the field and quickly broke back into the top-five.
 

Having rebuilt his confidence throughout yesterday’s mammoth 212.83 kilometre route, the Ford Fiesta RS WRC driver displayed a clear increase in pace which continued into today’s final stages – setting the third fastest time through the first pass of ‘Olmedo Monte Baranta’ (SS20)
 

The Welshman admitted that the rhythm he had enjoyed at the start of the season had not fully returned, but the future is looking promising for Evans who is becoming stronger ahead of his more favoured events.
 

In the sister M-Sport Fiesta RS WRC, the Sardinian fixture was immensely cruel to Tänak and co-driver Raigo Mõlder. Despite struggling to find their rhythm, the duo displayed a near-perfect combination of speed and caution which had propelled them into a podium position at yesterday’s midway point.


Pushing when confident and reigning in his true speed when not, the Estonian set the fastest time through SS7 and looked comfortable in a strong third place. Unfortunately it was not to be. Following a heavy landing after a jump on SS17, his Fiesta developed an issue with the transmission which forced him to accept Rally 2 regulations for the final day.
 

It was an unjust end to the Estonian’s event but he has once again proven how competitive he and the new Fiesta RS WRC can be.
 

Tänak may have missed out on the top-ten this weekend, but he secured six manufacturer points for the team which keeps them in touch with their two closest rivals.
 


Elfyn Evans (4th) said:

 

“It’s a very unexpected result after the issues we had on Friday. It’s fair to say that we had a difficult start for various reasons. Obviously we had the issue with the driveshaft on Friday morning and then after that I just couldn’t seem to get into the flow of it.


“We needed to start again on Saturday and I think it was a fairly solid run. We didn’t take any risks or chances but had a good rhythm which was a nice change from the day before! By the end of the day our fifth place was secured and when Mads [Østberg] encountered problems we moved up another place today.
 

“It’s been a difficult couple of rallies, but the feeling is gradually coming back and I’m sure we’ll be back on it in Poland. It’s a fast rally so it could be a bit of a shock to the system, but hopefully we can get up to speed and have a good run.”
 


Ott Tänak (14th) said:

 

“There are definitely a lot of positives to take away from this weekend. We were struggling a lot in the beginning of the event but we were able to learn and improve as the rally went on which was a really big positive. Also when everything was working well, we were right on the pace without having to take too many risks.
 

“Obviously it’s a big disappointment for the whole team because we’ve all put in a really big effort and a good result is just what we needed. Of course these things happen. We’ll learn from it and just push harder in the next rallies.
 

“The potential is there and I’m really looking forward to Poland and giving it a proper go. I think I was driving really safely in Portugal, I was pushing a bit more here – with a couple of small moments – and in Poland we can try to do the next step. We need to take it step by step to get where we ultimately want to be, and that’s what we’ll do.”
 


Team Principal, Malcolm Wilson OBE, said:


 
“This was an exceptionally difficult event and there are a lot of positives that we can take away. Ott [Tänak] and Raigo [Mõlder, co-driver] showed great speed in the new car – without feeling 100 percent comfortable – and they were extremely unlucky not to come away with the podium they deserved. They have come a long way in the past couple of events and I’m sure that a podium is just around the corner.
 

“Elfyn [Evans] was waylaid by some issues on Friday, but he knows this rally well and he was able to use that knowledge to progress well up the leader board. I think it’s fair to say that he didn’t expect to finish in fourth position following the troubles he had on Friday, but he kept it together and stayed out of trouble.
 

“We’ve scored a good haul of points and managed the gap to our two closest rivals. Second place in the manufacturers’ championship is up for the taking and the whole team are looking forward to the events to come. We’ve shown some good speed here and both crews have shown how much potential they have moving forward.”



PROTASOV WINS THRILLING WRC 2 BATTLE



Locked in an intense battle that went down to the final split, Ford Fiesta RRC driver Yurii Protasov claimed a stylish and thoroughly well-deserved victory at this weekend’s Rally Italia Sardegna along with an impressive seventh place overall.

 
Holding a seven second lead following a heroic fightback through yesterday’s stages, Protasov suffered a puncture on the opening test of the morning (SS20). Losing his lead, the Ukrainian had it all to do but rose to the challenge with real flair and enthusiasm.
 

An epic battle ensued and Protasov held a mere 0.5 second advantage going into the final stage. It was all to play for, but he and co-driver Pavlo Cherepin came out on top – securing the win by a comfortable 5.6 seconds.
 

His WRC 2 victory came hand-in-hand with a seventh place finish – his best overall performance and the best finish for a WRC 2 competitor so far this year.



Yurii Proatsov (1st) sai
d: “For me, this was such a fun rally. To have such a close fight with Paolo [Andreucci] – right up until the last split – was great and much more interesting than had there been no fight at all.
 

“We had to work hard all rally – listening to the notes and moving with the car – and I am very happy with what we have done this weekend and with our result which is the best of my career so far.”
 


M-Sport Managing Director, Malcolm Wilson OBE, said:

 

“This is a fantastic result for Yurii [Protasov] and the Ford Fiesta range – claiming the WRC 2 victory as well as a very impressive seventh place overall.
 

“Going into the final stage he was locked in one of the most exciting battles of the weekend and I am delighted to see him and Pavlo [Cherepin, co-driver] come out on top with their best ever WRC result.
 

“It really is a fantastic achievement for them. They worked extremely hard all weekend with what I think was one of their best ever performances. They thoroughly deserved this victory. They are getting better and better and should both be extremely proud of the job they have done.”



Anna Louise Rudd- photos M-Sport

Permanent-URL: http://www.automobilsport.com/italy-rally-elfyn-evans-m-sport-ford-team-fourth---137518.html

14.06.2015 / MaP

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