World Rally Championship Next Stop: Great Britain
The excitement mounts as the World Rally Championship heads for the forests of Wales this week, what many are describing as Britain’s chance for a home win thanks to Welshman Elfyn Evans and his DMack Ford Fiesta WRC. Evans has impressed far and wide this year and has been earmarked for a podium finish at least, a win at best. It will be a first for Wales as no Welsh driver has ever secured a podium position. In fact, no British driver has done anything of the kind since the 1994 – 2000 British glory years when Colin McRae and Richard Burns pumped out 3 wins each.
Welsh driver David Llewellyn came close in 1989 when competing for Toyota, but never managed to finish higher than 6th position. Llewellyn, 57, now backs Evans wholeheartedly. The retired rally veteran is one of the Welsh Rally Legends being honoured at this year’s Dayinsure Wales Rally GB.
Llewellyn reported to have been watching Evans closely over the last couple of months, saying that he believed that Evans, a member of the M-Sport squad, had what it took to write a Welsh winner into the books of history.
No Easy Competition
In order to secure a win, Evans will have to trump his two M-Sport team mates Sebastian Ogier and Ott Tanak as well as Hyundai’s Thierry Neuville, who are all in line for this year’s crown. There’s also the Citroen team to take into account. Headed up by Irishmen Chris Meeke and Craig Breene, this is not a team to be taken lightly, despite Meeke’s set up issues, which resulted in a run of poor results that saw him replaced temporarily by Mikkelsen.
Newcomers Gazoo Toyota are probably the biggest threat to any worthy contender, having snatched up their first win on only the second round in Sweden. The leadership of former World Rally Championship champion Tommi Makinen certainly is paying off in a big way.
Thursday kicks off with the usual opening super-special at Tir Prince after which Friday follows the usual format of the longest day with the earliest start. The second day includes crossing the border into England, historically a very popular leg of the race that forms part of the legendary rally fest stage at Cholmondeley Castle.
The third and final day sees the contenders having to navigate the Gwydyr Forest, which hasn’t been used since 2013. The final 42km stretch is notorious for being the make or break of the event.
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