By Paul Evans
Elfyn Evans finished fourth on Rally Italy, despite losing his battle for position with Andreas Mikkelsen (Hyundai) today by less than a second.
Just 7.9 seconds separated them going into today’s final four stages, but an inspired Mikkelsen set fastest time on all of them. Evans thought he’d finished fifth, before runaway leader Ott Tänak (Toyota) hit steering problems on the final stage – dropping him behind the Welshman and putting Evans back up into fourth.
But Evans and co-driver Scott Martin were disappointed – the smallest of margins of being a little too cautious on the hairpins in their M-Sport Ford Fiesta WRC proved to be the difference between standing on the podium or not.
“It’s really disappointing to have missed out by such a small margin,” said Evans. “Looking back, the first stage of the loop was okay but we gave far too much away in both passes of the Power Stage. It’s so rough in there and so easy to make a mistake – but also so easy to make the time if you’re willing to put it all on the line. I wouldn’t say that we didn’t push, but I was definitely too cautious in the hairpins and that’s where we lost it. It’s difficult right now, but it’s still a good result and we’ve strengthened our position in the championship.”
Dani Sordo (Hyundai) won the event, the popular Spanish driver taking his first WRC victory in six years. Evans’ team-mate Teemu Suninen was second, while Mikkelsen finished third.
Rally Italy – top finishing positions
1. Dani Sordo / Carlos del Barrio (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC) 3:32:27.2
2. Teemu Suninen / Jarmo Lehtinen (Ford Fiesta WRC) +13.7
3. Andreas Mikkelsen / Anders Jaeger (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC) +32.6
4. Elfyn Evans / Scott Martin (Ford Fiesta WRC) +33.5
5. Ott Tänak / Martin Järveoja (Toyota Yaris WRC) +1:30.1
6. Thierry Neuville / Nicolas Gilsoul (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC) +2:16.7
7. Esapekka Lappi / Janne Ferme (Citroen C3 WRC) +2:59.6
8. Kris Meeke / Seb Marshall (Toyota Yaris WRC) +4:40.1