WRC 2: Evans in front on home ground
"It’s been okay, but not easy for sure"
Welshman Elfyn Evans leads the WRC 2 category of his home round of the World Rally Championship after the first evening of the competition.
The 24-year-old from Dolgellau in mid-Wales won two of Thursday’s trio of night stages in the north Wales forests, to pull a 13.2sec lead over Finland’s Jari Ketomaa.
Multiple British Champion Mark Higgins is third, just 3.4sec behind Ketomaa. All three are driving Ford Fiesta R5 cars.
“It’s been okay, but not easy for sure,” said Evans. “The first stage wasn’t great but things got better and better.
“We’ve got good traction but had to sacrifice some stability to get that, so I was a little nervous in the fast sections, but that’s a comprise we decided to take in testing. The car is feeling good now and I’m looking forward to tomorrow.”
Ketomaa won the opening Gwydyr test but couldn’t match Evans’ pace on the faster roads of Penmachno and Clocaenog. “Overall I’m happy but there’s more speed to come from me,” he said. “I took no risks, and in the dark I couldn’t get confidence in the fast stuff - a little too much braking!”
Higgins was another to feel uncomfortable in the darkness - especially early in the first stage when he forgot to turn on his car’s headlights.
“It was certainly better with the lights on, but we haven’t yet found a good driving rhythm,” he said. “Not a bad run, but sometimes we’re off the pace, while at others we’re pushing a bit too hard. It’ll be a lot easier in the daytime. We’re not too far away and there’s definitely more to come from us.”
Eyvind Brynildsen is fourth, just 2.1sec behind Higgins after a trouble-free run in another Fiesta R5. Robert Barrable, also in a Fiesta, rounds off the top five.
Edoardo Bresolin is sixth, with Yazeed Al Rajhi seventh after dropping time on SS1 when he nudged into the back of Michal Solowow’s Fiesta that was stopped on the road.
Subhan Aksa’s problematic season continued, with the Indonesian reporting an over-revving engine. He ended the day eleventh.
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