PREVIEW: Can Evans preserve the WRC title struggle alive at Rally Spain?
Two rounds to go, and simply two drivers stay within the FIA World Rally Championship title struggle because the future of the 2022 crown reaches a doubtlessly decisive level on the asphalt of Rally Spain this weekend.
Sebastien Ogier can seal his eighth WRC drivers’ title in 9 seasons at Rally Spain (Oct. 15-17). The one man who can deny him and take the battle right into a final-round decider on Italy’s Monza Rally subsequent month is his Toyota Gazoo Racing teammate, Elfyn Evans (pictured above).
The distinction couldn’t be larger. Frenchman Ogier has dominated the WRC during the last decade, delivering 53 rally wins in his profession, and is now in his last season earlier than stepping again from full-time competitors.
Evans secured his fifth WRC occasion win on the super-fast gravel roads of Rally Finland two weeks in the past and is determined for a maiden world title after dropping out to Ogier final season. Again then, the Welshman began the ultimate spherical at Italy’s legendary Monza circuit with a factors lead over Ogier, however resulted in despair after crashing out.
This time round, Ogier carries a 24-point benefit in his Yaris World Rally Automobile onto the quick, flowing asphalt within the hills behind Catalunya’s Daurada coast, south of Barcelona. With a most of 30 factors obtainable this weekend (25 for the general win, and 5 for quickest time on Sunday’s closing Energy Stage), the crown will keep in France if he outscores Evans by seven factors.
It’s the third straight season that Toyota is assured the drivers’ championship and Ogier, a three-time Rally Spain winner, will come out preventing.
“Spain would be the first practical likelihood for me to say the title and I do know what I have to do to make it occur,” he says. “When I’ve the possibility to win, I attempt to struggle for it, and this would be the easiest option to obtain our purpose.”
Evans, who’s but to win a WRC occasion on asphalt, isn’t giving up on his chase of his legendary teammate and is fired up by his Finland success.
“The win on Rally Finland was a fantastic outcome for us,” he says. “The drivers’ title continues to be an extended shot, however as soon as extra we’ll be giving our greatest in Spain and making an attempt to get the absolute best outcome there.”
On Thursday’s pre-rally shakedown, Ogier set quickest time in his Yaris WRC, stopping the clock at 2m33.6s on the two.68-mile take a look at. However with Evans simply 0.2s behind, prepare for an intense intra-team duel in Catalunya.
Ogier, Evans and their teammate, 21-year-old Finn Kalle Rovanpera, may also regain the WRC producers’ title for Toyota on the occasion. It holds a 61-point lead over Hyundai Motorsport, and if that benefit stays above 52 at Sunday’s end, the Japanese producer can start the celebrations.
Belgium’s Thierry Neuville, the winner in Spain when the rally was final held in 2019, Estonian Ott Tanak and residential hero Dani Sordo are the drivers charged by Hyundai with conserving the producers’ battle alive of their trio of i20 Coupe WRCs. Neuville set third-fastest time at Shakedown, simply 0.4s off Ogier’s benchmark, with Sordo (+0.6s) and Tanak (+0.8s) finishing an ultra-close prime 5 that hints at an ultra-close lead struggle by way of the weekend.