Elfyn Evans and co-driver Daniel Barritt recovered from early dramas to finish in sixth place at this weekend’s Rallye Monte-Carlo, but the prestigious event could have yielded so much more.
Unlucky to have picked up a puncture on the very first stage, the British pair lost more than three minutes to the leading pack but refused to lose focus – following up the disappointment with a resurgent comeback from 16th to sixth.
Two stage victories proved that Elfyn had the pace to challenge for a podium and, had the final-day conditions been more to his liking, fourth place could have been a distinct possibility – the Welshman ending the rally just over 10 seconds shy.
The M-Sport Ford World Rally Team, however, started the year as they mean to go on – leading the FIA World Rally Championships for Manufacturers, Drivers and Co-drivers courtesy of a sixth Rallye Monte-Carlo victory for Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia.
“It’s been a tough edition of the rally this year and we had an especially tough start losing so much time on the very first stage. Over the next few days I think we were there or thereabouts in terms of outright speed, but overall there were just too many little errors.
“When it came to making the smart choices at the right time, we weren’t quite there and that’s what cost us a really good result. The comforting thing is that the speed is there, but we still need to be better.”
Team Principal, Malcolm Wilson OBE, said:
“This season is going to be closer than ever and we got it off to the perfect start this weekend. Rallye Monte-Carlo is an event that everyone wants to win, so to have secured back-to-back victories here is fantastic; and it doesn’t get much better than leading all three championships.
“Elfyn was unlucky to have lost so much time on Thursday evening, but he fought back strongly and could have challenged for fourth place were the conditions more consistent today. Had everything gone to plan, he had the pace to have challenged for the podium this weekend, and he should definitely take encouragement from that."