Evans Denied Victory By Less Than A Second | 30 April 2017
Elfyn Evans and Dan Barritt had led the fifth round of the FIA World Rally Championship since the second stage on Friday but, in a dramatic final-stage twist, they clipped a bridge just kilometres from the end and dropped to second overall.
It was a momentous event, however, for the British DMACK crew who used the DMG+2 GS62 tyre to set a pace that left more experienced competitors in their wake. They stormed through the opening day of the event and put in an untouchable performance to win six stages and hold an overnight lead of 55.7 seconds.
It was DMACK’s best-ever day in the WRC as Evans powered his M-Sport Ford Fiesta WRC into a commanding position as other drivers faltered on the rough gravel stages around the Santa Rosa de Calamuchita valley.
Maximising the superior performance of their soft compound tyres, they continued to set the pace on Saturday on some of the toughest conditions in the championship. Another stage win took their total to seven, the highest number scored on an individual rally by any driver this season.
Then a misunderstanding with a pacenote on stage 12 forced Evans to slide wide and he picked up a puncture. There was further drama when the rear diffuser ripped off after a heavy landing, affecting the handling in the rear of the car, and Evans inevitably dropped further time.
They took a slender 11.5 second advantage into the final day today but temporary loss of brakes and an overheating engine meant they held a 0.6 second lead going into the final stage over the iconic El Condor mountain pass.
After edging ahead at the halfway point, Evans clipped a bridge and lost just enough time to see his lead turn into a 0.7 second deficit – his and DMACK’s dream of a debut WRC victory slipped away. The second place equalled DMACK’s best finish in the championship and signalled Evans’ intention to chase his maiden win this season.
Dick Cormack, DMACK managing director, said: “It has been an incredible weekend on probably the toughest and most challenging event in the WRC. Elfyn and Dan produced a stunning performance this weekend and it is extremely reassuring to know we have the complete package to challenge for victory on all of the gravel events this season. We look forward to taking the battle to Michelin in Portugal.”
Elfyn Evans said: “It’s been a milestone event in my career. We are obviously disappointed at not sealing our first win in the WRC but this weekend has made me even more determined. We’ve picked up so much from this rally, I know I have the pace to challenge at the top now and the experience will help me to improve even further.”