Evans continue to progress
"We’ve had another clean and consistent run with no mistakes"
M-Sport World Rally Team’s Elfyn Evans continued his development as Rally Argentina reconvened in Cordoba’s southern territory today. Holding seventh place, the youngster displayed maturity beyond his years and is on course for a solid result on what is his first taste of the South American fixture.
Returning to the stages following an unfortunate retirement on yesterday’s opening speed test (SS2), Mikko Hirvonen climbed the standings. Currently holding 11th place, the Finn is now tantalisingly close to a points-paying finish.
Contested over the open roads of the Valle de Calamunchita, today’s terrain provided a much more civilised affair. Far removed from the narrow tracks of the mountains north of Villa Carlos Paz, the stages were fast and flowing, but that did not alter Evans’ approach.
Resisting the temptation to show his true potential behind the wheel of the Ford Fiesta RS WRC, the Welshman stuck to his strategy. Tackling each new stage with an air of caution, M-Sport’s latest protégée knows how vital the knowledge of such a specialist event will be in years to come. Guided by the experience of his team and co-driver Daniel Barritt, the youngster remains focused on that goal and on course for another solid result.
In the sister M-Sport Fiesta RS WRC, Mikko Hirvonen and Jarmo Lehtinen were regaining their rhythm after yesterday’s high-speed – and uncharacteristic – mistake. Using the day wisely, the Finn was able to assess various set-up options and build further confidence for future events.
Upping his pace significantly for the afternoon loop, Hirvonen looked at one behind the wheel of his Fiesta RS WRC once again. Fearless in the fog that blighted the second pass of ‘Amboy – Yacanto’ (SS9), the popular M-Sport driver even came close to securing a stage win – just 0.3 seconds adrift of the rally’s advantageously placed leader, Jari-Matti Latvala.
Elfyn Evans (7th) said:
“We’ve had another clean and consistent run with no mistakes, but I can’t pretend that it’s not been a little frustrating at times. There’s a lot to learn and the stages have been very testing so we have just tried to keep out of trouble.
“It’s important not to do more than what feels 100 per cent comfortable at the time. If you do more than that, the risk goes up and it’s a long way to come not to gain the experience. It’s so important if you want to progress at this level and, ultimately, we want to ensure that we are in a good position for next year.
“Tomorrow looks like it could be another very difficult day. We know that the stages are very tight and very rough, and then there is the weather to take into account as well. But if we continue like we have today and learn as much as we can from each of the stages, then it’ll be job done.”
Mikko Hirvonen (11th) said:
“It was a bit tricky this morning. I didn’t find the best rhythm and it took a while to get back into the swing of things but this afternoon was a lot better. We made some small changes on the car – trying a few different things and doing a bit of testing – which I was really happy with.
“We were then able to set a really good time on SS9. I think we drove that stage really well and I hope that we can carry that speed forward to tomorrow. It’s going to be another tricky day, but let’s see if we can continue like this and score some points.”
Team Principal, Malcolm Wilson OBE, said:
“It’s been another solid day for Elfyn [Evans] and he has done exactly what was required. I know that he is frustrated with the pace, but I have also reassured him that it is just part of the learning process. He needs to gain the experience that is so vital to progressing at this level – especially at an event like this where the stages are so technically demanding. He may be frustrated now, but he is doing exactly what has been asked of him and it will put him in a much stronger position for the future.
“We’ve also seen a very solid day from Mikko [Hirvonen] – coming back strongly after yesterday’s disappointment. He’s had the opportunity to test some different settings with the car and, although he might not have seen a benefit this morning, he really came into his own this afternoon. We’re expecting some tricky conditions tomorrow, and it’s there where Mikko really thrives, so hopefully we’ll see him climb back into the top-ten.
“Finally, all credit to our mechanics and engineers. Both cars have performed faultlessly and considering the amount of damage that they had to repair on Mikko’s car, I think it’s fair to say that they have done another exceptional job.”
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