By Gareth James
Elfyn Evans discovered just how treacherous this weekend’s World Rally Championship title decider could be as he spun on the pre-event shakedown in Monza.
The title pacesetter was caught-out at one of the chicanes in the snowy and slippery conditions on the F1 circuit.
Evans completed the 2.88mile test in ninth spot but will know that this weekend’s unique venue for the decider could be testing.
The Dolgellau ace leads the standings by 14 points with 30 points left to play for.
— Scott Martin (@scottmartinat) December 3, 2020
Evans saw his Toyota Yaris WRC snap away from his as he flicked the car right to negotiate the chicane, clouting the haybale and blocks that form the chicane.
The 31-year-old was able to continue with co-driver Scott Martin but some smoke did gather in the car as they finish 6.5 secs off Thierry Neuville’s time.
Gus Greensmith, who would set the sixth fastest time in his M-Sport Ford Fiesta WRC, saw what happened to Evans as he finiished sixth fastest.
“I thought being on the track it was going to be one of the most simple weekends but there’s no grip whatsoever,” said the Brit.
“I got to the chicane Elfyn was spinning [and] it looked completely fine. You got to the right and the grip wasn’t there.”
— Toyota GAZOO Racing WRT (@TGR_WRC) November 30, 2020
Neuville, who still has a slim title shot, set the best time on his first pass finishing ahead of reigning champ Ott Tanak and Evans’ main rival and team-mate Sebastien Ogier.
Belgium’s Neuville warned: “It’s going to be an interesting weekend,” Neuville admitted. “Slippy conditions even on shakedown so it’s going to be even more slippy for the race.”
The final rally of the season starts on Thursday afternoon with SS1 – Sottozero The Monza Legacy.
1 Thierry Neuville/Nicolas Gilsoul (Hyundai) 3m08.7s
2 Ott Tänak/Martin Järveoja (Hyundai) +2.1s
3 Sébastien Ogier/Julien Ingrassia (Toyota) +2.8s
4 Kalle Rovanperä/Jonne Halttunen (Toyota) +3.7s
5 Takamoto Katsuta/Daniel Barritt (Toyota) +4.1s
6 Gus Greensmith/Elliott Edmondson (M-Sport) +4.3s
7 Ole Christian Veiby/Jonas Andersson (2C Hyundai) +4.4s
8 Dani Sordo/Carlos del Barrio (Hyundai) +6.3s
9 Elfyn Evans/Scott Martin (Toyota) +6.5s
10 Teemu Suninen/Jarmo Lehtinen (M-Sport) +6.7s