Home hero Elfyn Evans was a convincing winner of Thursday morning’s shakedown at Dayinsure Wales Rally GB.The Welshman was fastest in the 3.32km Clocaenog speed test in a Ford Fiesta by 2.3sec from Dani Sordo. The Spaniard, driving a Hyundai i20, was a tenth clear of Ott Tänak and a tightly clustered group behind.
Evans benefited from a new range of DMACK tyres launched at the previous round in Spain, which were developed specifically for the cool, wet and muddy conditions found on the gravel forest roads.
“It’s looking good at the minute but there’s no more rain forecast so it’s going to be a case of how much it dries. If we have conditions like we had on shakedown that’s really positive for us, but if it dries a lot then that long loop on Saturday morning could be tough,” said Evans.
“This year there seems to be a lot of grip changes, which are quite prone to happening in GB anyway. But with so much rain, and especially with it drying a little bit now, I think we’ll see some areas which become quite high grip. Others where they have been logging will be very, very treacherous, so I think we will have a lot of mixed grip.”
Toyota Yaris pilot Jari-Matti Latvala was 0.1sec behind Tänak, with i20 duo Thierry Neuville and Haydon Paddon, back in action after missing the previous round in Spain, completing the top six.
Sébastien Ogier, who can clinch a fifth consecutive drivers’ world title this weekend, was seventh in another Fiesta and not ruling out a record fifth straight British victory.
“Beautiful roads, nice profile, very challenging conditions but fun to drive,” he said. “It would be fantastic to win the title here. That’s our plan and we’ll try our best, but if it’s too complicated we have to be clever as well.”
The leading times were:
|1.||Elfyn Evans||Ford Fiesta||1min 58.1sec|
|2.||Dani Sordo||Hyundai i20||+ 2.3sec|
|3.||Ott Tänak||Ford Fiesta||+ 2.4sec|
|4.||Jari-Matti Latvala||Toyota Yaris||+ 2.5sec|
|5.||Thierry Neuville||Hyundai i20||+ 2.7sec|
|6.||Hayden Paddon||Hyundai i20||+ 2.8sec|
|7=.||Sébastien Ogier||Ford Fiesta||+ 3.4sec|
|7=.||Andreas Mikkelsen||Hyundai i20||+ 3.4sec|
|9=.||Juho Hänninen||Toyota Yaris||+ 3.5sec|
|9=.||Craig Breen||Citroën C3||+ 3.5sec|