Elfyn Evans is looking to mount another world title challenge in 2021. Pic: Getty Images.

Elfyn Evans Looking To Go The Full Monte In 2021 After His WRC Title Heartbreak

By Gareth James

Elfyn Evans is hoping to give it the full Monte when he launches his FIA World Rally Championship campaign in Monaco on Thursday.

The Dolgellau ace saw his dream of becoming the first Welsh driver to win the title dashed in the final round last season when he slid off the road in Italy just six weeks ago.

But Evans will be looking to put that disappointment behind him as he embarks on his second season with the Toyota Gazoo Racing outfit.

“It was a strong first season for me with the team in 2020, but of course there was an element of discovery at some points as well,” said Evans, who lost out to team-mate Sebastien Ogier who took his seventh drivers’ crown in December.

Elfyn Evans was poised to be crowned champ until slid off on the snow in northern Italy. Pic: Toyota Gazoo Racing.

“Now, 12 months in, I’m a bit more familiar with my surroundings and that should make things easier to start the year.

“But it’s always very competitive, so we have to continue to make improvements and to want to be better all the time.

“There’s a few classics on the calendar that always draw your eye and which you think that it would be cool to win, and Rallye Monte-Carlo is obviously one of those.

“Normally the stages are very nice and I really enjoy the driving, but of course the conditions can make it quite difficult – especially when it’s dark and there’s snow and ice about and it’s really difficult to judge how much grip you have.

“In testing with the new Pirelli tyres I had two quite different days in terms of conditions, and that’s been good to explore the various options that we have available on this rally.”

Route for Monte Carlo Rally, oldest event on WRC calendar.

Evans’ team-mate Ogier is a seven-time winner of the Monte which is based in his hometown of Gap in the French Alps.

This year it celebrates its 110th anniversary – though there were fears it would not go ahead due to the ongoing COVID-19 crisis.

But there will be no shakedown for the event – which starts on Thursday – this year and due to a curfew there will be early finishes.

It will still be one of the most challenging, thanks to the changeable conditions which can range from dry asphalt to snow and ice, sometimes within a single stage. This means tyre choice is often a critical element of the rally.

This year, the teams will be using new tyres from Pirelli, which becomes the sole supplier of the WRC’s top categories.

The rally starts with a pair of stages just to the north of Gap. On Friday morning the crews will head west for three new stages, two of which will be repeated after midday service.

Saturday morning takes the rally to the east for two stages prior to the final service in Gap, with the La Bréole – Selonnet test to then be run for a second time before the crews make the journey to Monaco.

The final day takes place further to the west of the Principality than usual, with a pair of stages to each be run twice.

There have also been changes to the WRC calendar because of COVID-19 with next month’s round in Sweden – which Evans won last year – replaced by the Arctic Rally.

Sadly, there will be no British round for the second year running with their place on the 2021 calendar taken by Ypres in Belgium.

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