Welsh rugby is on a high, Welsh football is on a high and now Welsh rallying is on a similar high after Elfyn Evans scored an outstanding career-high second place in the Tour de Corse, the French round of this year’s FIA World Rally Championship.
Earlier this season the 26-year-old from Dolgellau posted his maiden WRC podium when finishing a fine third in Argentina in his M-Sport Fiesta RS WRC. Now the promising young Welshman has moved one step closer to his first World Championship victory when finishing runner-up to the VW Polo R of Finland’s Jari-Matti Latvala on Corsica.
Even so, the history books reveal it is the best-ever result in premier league FIA World Championship motor sport for a Welsh driver, eclipsing his own third place in South America and the pair of Grand Prix thirds posted in the Seventies by talented F1 driver Tom Pryce who hailed from Ruthin.
After three days of high-speed action on the notoriously twisty and narrow mountain roads, Evans and co-driver Daniel Barritt finished the epic ‘rally of 10,000 corners’ 43.1 seconds behind the victorious Finn and just 3.2 seconds ahead of Andreas Mikkelsen in another of the all-conquering Polo Rs.
As well as the star-studded field, Evans had to overcome some of the worst weather the Mediterranean Island had experienced in years, making the mud-covered asphalt stages extremely slippery.
Undaunted, the fearless Welshman conquered the treacherous conditions to lead after Friday’s opening leg. The more experienced Latvala then fought back to hold a slender advantage at the end of Saturday’s leg but, despite having to concede victory on the final day, Evans performed brilliantly to hold onto second place and add to the current Welsh sporting euphoria.
“I think it’s fair to say that it’s been one hell of a week for Welsh sport!” enthused a delighted Evans. “To see the Welsh rugby team doing so well, and then my result here, it’s just a great achievement and I really hope that I did the boys back home proud.
“Needless to say we’re delighted with the result. And thanks also to everyone who has been sending in their messages of support. I haven’t read them all yet, but I will certainly find time to do that!”
The British success story on Corsica was enhanced by Kris Meeke who followed up his maiden WRC win in Argentina with another strong showing. Arriving back in Europe in confident mood after a podium last month in Australia, the Ulsterman bought his Citroen DS3 WRC home in a fine fourth position.
Both Meeke and Evans will be aiming for further success later this month in Spain and, following that, on their home event Wales Rally GB (12-15 November), the UK’s concluding round of the 2015 WRC. In the meantime, Evans will be back on home soil later this week for a special Wales Rally GB media preview (details below).
With two British drivers to the fore, huge numbers are expected in the legendary Welsh forests in November. Tickets are already selling fast, with large numbers taking advantage of the significant discounts on offer for those booking now.
The four-day World Rally Pass is the all-inclusive ticket for fans. It provides access to all the individual Special Stages as well as Thursday’s pre-event Shakedown. It is priced at £99 for adults (or just £1 for accompanied children aged 9-15) and comes with a desirable hard card and lanyard plus an event programme valued at £9.
Forest Passes offer a similar level of flexibility as the World Rally Pass but just for an individual day of the event. Again they include an official programme and can be purchased in advance for just £25 – a considerable saving on Single Stage tickets which will cost £30 on the day. Tickets for the family friendly RallyFest at Chirk Castle are available now for £25 with an even greater discount being offered to families. Full ticket information can be found on the WalesRallyGB.com