We catch up with Robert Kubica’s main rival in the WRC’s WRC2 category.
Welshman Elfyn Evans might come across as quiet but his confidence is sky high and growing by the race.
At the wheel of an M-Sport Ford Fiesta, he is the only driver to have regularly taken the fight to Citroen's Robert Kubica in WRC2 in 2013. He’s still to win in the category – Rally GB in his native Wales in mid-November is surely an open goal but he’s in a bit more of a hurry than that.
“I’d love to do it in Spain later this month. It’s a mixture of asphalt and gravel and it’s meant to be Robert’s last outing in the WRC this year so I’d love to do it there for obvious reasons. And it’d be nice to be able to say I can do it away from home.”
You were second to Robert in France. What happened?
“We got a puncture very early on and lost a lot of time. Then I went and pushed and could take the fight to him in terms of stage times, but any chance of the win was gone. On the final day the times weren’t anything sensational which, if I’m honest, wasn’t the greatest feeling in the world but by then it was all about bringing the car home.”
Last year you won what is now in effect the Junior WRC title – what has it been like in the WRC2 Fiesta R5 this year?
“The biggest difficulty has been getting my head around the capability of the car. The leap from a Junior Fiesta to an R5 is big. It’s an engineered, purpose-built rally car, not a car that’s been adapted to rally.”
How about your own performance compared to 12 months ago?
“The last four years I’ve seen a pattern in that I’ve taken steps forward every time. It’s all the different factors that make you a complete driver and performer, particularly technique and confidence which have been the biggest things.
“If I was to get in my Junior car from last year now I’d go faster, not necessarily through any new car set-up tricks but purely technique and confidence. Obviously that rise is going to have to continue if I want to reach the top and I’m very hungry for that to happen.”
Ah, confidence… something Messrs Ogier, Loeb and Neuville in particular do not seem to be short of!
“A lot of it is about confidence. If you have the confidence you can go quickly and do the job and that is usually what happens. One follows the other. The biggest change in WRC2 and particularly WRC is that the competition is so high it’s not a case of putting in one or two good stages and boom, the job’s done. You have to be on the case the whole three days.
“I think I can be that strong in the head (as Ogier and co). I’m someone who likes to prepare to a massive level. I’m confident in myself – I might not appear so confident to the outside but I have absolute confidence in my inner ability. Any driver who wants to compete and succeed at the level I want to get to has to have that.”