ELFYN EVANS | INTERVIEW
Rally driver Elfyn Evans recently became the first Welshman to win a World Rally Championship stage on home soil. Fedor Tot caught up with the up-and-coming racer.
How does it feel to have won your first WRC Rally on home soil?
It feels incredible to be honest. It’s been a lot to get to this point, so it’s not always been so easy. A lot of sacrifice has gone in from a lot of people, from the team at M-Sport over the years, from my family, Dan [Barritt] my co-driver and myself, so it’s a bit early but it feels pretty good.
What are your plans for the 2018 World Rally Championship?
Nothing’s fully prepared yet, but there will be some news on that soon…I think we’re certainly aiming to be regularly fighting for the higher positions next year. This year we’ve shown some glimpses of good speed and good rallies, but it would be nice to do it more on a consistent basis and be more of Championship threat. I think realistically we’re still another season away from a real Championship challenge, but you never know. We’ll go in there with the attitude that we’re going to do the best job we can, but the priority is to be more consistent.
What inspired you to go into Rally driving?
I was lucky enough that my father was a professional rally driver so a lot of my childhood involved sport in some way; there’s always been rally. My dad was very much into motorbikes and mountain bikes, but it wasn’t until I turned 16 going on 17, when you’re old enough to drive, that I started to show a bit of hunger to go that way [towards rally driving]. Then from there my dad allowed me to do it and supported me.
Rally used to be a regular feature on terrestrial TV and was quite visible in the UK, but recently it seems to have dropped off a bit in popularity. Do you think that is the case and do you think that’s hopefully going to change?
Yeah it would be nice if it was going to change, but the way that people access sport has changed a lot over the last 20 years. There’s very little live sport on terrestrial TV on a regular basis outside of football and F1, and a lot of motorsport has gone onto more specialist channels or online entirely. But I think the online side of things is developing and I think the profile of the sport is growing again all the time, especially with the cars we have now. At the end of the 2000s we had only two manufacturers and the cars were quite quiet and heavy and then with [Sebastien] Loeb winning it again and again [Loeb won 9 consecutive WRCs from 2004 to 2012]. Now we have four manufacturers, each with a competitive car that’s won rallies. There’s been seven different winners this year, which has livened things up.
Of all the places you go throughout the year, which rallies are your favourites to drive on?
Naturally, GB has a special atmosphere because it’s at home. There’s always something special about it because it’s where you’ve grown up driving and you naturally feel relaxed and it’s always enjoyable. Otherwise, one of the highlights of the season for me now especially with these new cars is Rally Finland. The speed and the feeling of driving these cars is incredible; in terms of maximum driving skills, you can’t beat Finland. Least favourite? [laughs] I seem to have a couple of events on the calendar which seem to be…Spain is one. I went there the first time in 2012 as junior championship contender and I lost my lead after four competitive wins though I did still end up on the podium. Then moving on from there I seem to have had disasters there every year. In ’13 I had an accident followed by a mechanical breakdown the following day, then ’14 I had another accident, ’15 another accident. This year I went through no problem but maybe not as competitive as I would have liked.