Elfyn Evans had to settle for second on Rally Croatia.

Elfyn Evans’ Joy Turns To Agony In Croatia

By Gareth James

Elfyn Evans suffered a roller-coaster of emotions as he had to settle for second place after a dramatic Sunday on Rally Croatia.

The Welshman looked to have been handed a glorious chance to repeat his victory on the event from last year when title rival Thierry Neuville hit a bank on the second stage of the day.

But Evans – unaware the Belgian had suffered a problem – misjudged a tight right-hand bend on the same stage and lost 20 seconds.

That allowed eight-time world champion Sébastien Ogier to leap from third to first – before holding off Toyota team-mate Evans by just over nine seconds to take the victory and the 10oth podium of his career. Neuville was more than 45 secs adrift in third.

“It’s a feeling of disappointment with the spin and the tyre choice,” said Evans. “It’s not ideal but you have to be in it to try.

“It’s been a good weekend but disappointed with today.”

The result left the championship standings  unchanged with Hyundai’s Neuville leading Evans by six points after four of the seasons 13 rounds.

After three days of neck and neck competition on spectator-packed asphalt roads around capital city Zagreb, victory looked set to be decided between Neuville and Evans.

But on the second stage of the day, SS18, a late pace note meant overnight leader Neuville arrived too fast into a left-hander and slid wide before riding up a bank and into a tree.

The impact destroyed his Hyundai’s rear aerodynamics package but, more importantly, cost him almost 25sec.

Evans misjudged a tightening right-hand bend in the very same stage and spun, dropping 20sec as he tried to get his car pointing in the right direction.

It meant that Ogier, who had occupied third place since the opening stage on Friday morning, suddenly gained a 9.1sec lead with two stages remaining.

“It’s been a tough weekend,” admitted Ogier, who was co-driven by Vincent Landais. “We knew coming here that our start position would be an issue, but we never gave up and kept the pressure on for the whole weekend.

“I don’t think I’ve ever had so many moments in one rally, but it’s nice to get the win for the team.”

The 18 points Neuville earned by leading on Saturday evening helped to retain his drivers’ series lead.

The championship heads for the gravel next month for Rally de Portugal. Round five of the season is based in Matosinhos and takes place from 9 – 12 May.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.