Despite surging to the top of the FIA World Rally Championship with victory in Turkey last weekend, Elfyn Evans is not allowing title talk to change his approach.
The Welshman emerged from the incredible drama of Rally Turkey’s last day with an 18-point lead in the drivers’ standings over Toyota Gazoo Racing team-mate Sébastien Ogier, with two rounds remaining in Italy and Belgium.
Evans has been clear that his strategy is to focus on one rally at a time and he continued to bat away questions about a maiden title following his second win of the season on the Turquoise Coast.
“I haven’t given it too much thought,” he said. “Who knows what will happen between now and the end of the season? We know that, ultimately, one retirement and it is flipped on its head again. We have to keep our heads down for the next rallies.”
Evans grabbed the lead during Sunday morning’s first pass through the rocky Çetibeli speed test. He leapt from fourth to first in the remarkable 38.15km stage when punctures delayed leader Thierry Neuville, Sébastien Loeb in second and third-placed Ogier.
He then measured his pace through the final three special stages, surviving a puncture scare of his own in the second run through Çetibeli.
“Close to the start, I felt a few knocks early on the rear. I just felt straight away I had quite a few corners where the rear was trying to slide and I said to Scotty [co-driver Scott Martin] it felt quite clear. Obviously, I carried on and it turned out we didn’t. It was all OK at the end,” Evans explained.
While the first Çetibeli stage provided great entertainment for fans watching on WRC+ All Live, it was a different matter inside the Toyota Yaris.
“The first pass through that long one was very difficult,” added Evans. “Everybody had dust at the start and Kalle [Rovanperä] had a puncture in front of us. The gap was only two minutes, so I was constantly in his dust then all the way to the end.
“It was quite difficult in and out of the dust, non-stop, with that many corners and that many things to hit. It was quite stressful, but happy that we came through in those conditions.”