By Paul Evans
Elfyn Evans has been forced to withdraw from Rally Mexico, after his co-driver, Daniel Barritt, was taken to hospital with suspected concussion, following their sixth gear high-speed roll on stage four.
It’s a bitterly disappointing blow for the 29-year old works Ford driver, who, by his own admission, has had a bad start to the 2018 FIA World Rally Championship.
A puncture on both the Monte Carlo and Swedish rallies saw Evans finish sixth and 14th respectively, and he was aiming to kick start his 2018 campaign with a good result in Mexico – a gravel event he’s always gone well on.
And it was going very well today too – with Evans up to third place overall after setting second fastest time on SS3.
But it all went wrong on SS4, when his Ford Fiesta RS WRC hit a bank at high speed after a series of nasty bumps – rolling several times.
Despite the heavy impact causing a lot of damage to the left hand side of the car and to the suspension, Evans continued in 12th place and completed SS5. He managed to get the car back into service and, whilst the M-Sport team mechanics could have fixed the car to allow Evans to continue, his co-driver was instead sent to hospital for a medical check up and the car withdrawn from the event.
“We hit a series of bumps that were a lot worse than expected,” explained Evans. “We lost the rear, still in sixth gear, and didn’t have the power to pull out of the slide. We clipped the bank on the inside and rolled I don’t know how many times.
“I jumped out of the car immediately because I didn’t think there would be any way to continue. But when the dust settled we could see that the damage wasn’t too bad at all. We got our helmets back on and managed to finish the stage – which is incredible after a roll like that.
“We checked in with the medical team when we returned to service and Dan was advised to go for some further precautionary checks. We’re both okay, which is the main thing, and now we just need to focus on starting our season afresh in Corsica.”