The world of rallying may have ground to a halt, but Wales’ top driver Elfyn Evans is not allowing his own wheels to stop spinning. This season’s Rally Sweden winner is running and cycling to improve his overall fitness as he told Paul Evans.
Elfyn Evans has found the stunning countryside around his hometown of Dolgellau is providing the perfect training ground as he awaits the restart of FIA World Rally Championship.
The coronavirus pandemic slammed the brakes on Evans’ best ever start to a season, just as he had established himself as a serious title contender.
On his debut for the Toyota Gazoo Racing team, Evans led January’s Monte Carlo Rally before eventually finishing third.
He then made history in February by becoming the first British driver to win Rally Sweden – leaving snowy Scandinavia joint leader of the series.
Evans then steered his Yaris WRC to fourth place on Rally Mexico in March – which is when everything suddenly stopped.
This impressive start sees Evans second in the drivers’ points standings, eight points behind team-mate and six time world champion Sébastien Ogier and 12 points ahead of third placed Thierry Neuville (Hyundai).
But with this month’s Rally Portugal cancelled and other rounds postponed indefinitely, Evans has no idea when or where the WRC will resume.
“For sure it was a good start to the year,” says Evans.
“You always look to see what you could have done better – and looking back there have been a couple of frustrations – but, overall, it’s been far the strongest start that I’ve ever made to a championship.
“Hopefully there’ll be more to come although, in these strange times, it’s obviously very difficult to plan forward.
“I know everyone is working hard to maximise whatever is left of the year but it’s not easy as there are so many major factors to consider right now.
“Fingers crossed things improve – I really want to get back behind the wheel as soon as possible.”
Evans has always worked incredibly hard on his fitness – and this unexpected mid-season break is enabling him to train even harder than nights away in a hundred or more different hotels would allow.
And the dramatic scenery around his home provides a fantastic natural gym that the 31-year old never gets bored of working out in.
“Normally this time is all go with lots of travel, whereas being at home every day is allowing me to really concentrate on the fitness side of things,” adds Evans.
“These are really strange times but I’m really lucky where I live.
“Right from the front door of my house on the edge of the town, I’ve got some great running and cycling routes which take me right up into the hills.
“Mountain biking is great exercise and one of the parts of my training programme which I really enjoy.
“You get both the physical fatigue plus the need to maintain concentration.
“Picking your way along off-road tracks also includes an element of relevance to what goes on in the rally car.
“The local trail centre is closed but there’s some really good natural terrain very close to my home and the recent warm weather has been a big, big bonus.”
One round of the WRC that nobody wants to see cancelled is Wales Rally GB, which is scheduled to take place between 29 October – 1 November.
It’s a rally Evans famously won in 2017 – and, Covid-19 restrictions permitting, it’s an event he’ll start as hot favourite to win again this year.
“The Yaris has a very strong track record in Wales,” says Evans.
“It goes without saying that it’s a rally which I’m really looking forward to.
“While right now I’m loving this amazing landscape on my mountain bike, I just hope we are back on four wheels competing in these incredible valleys and forests at the end of October.”