Elfyn Evans’ prospects of becoming Wales’ first World Rally Champion in Sardinia this weekend have been ended after organisers added an extra Italian round.
The WRC season will now end at the Monza Rally on 4-6 December after the event was added to the COVID-19 reduced calendar.
Evans – who finished Friday’s opening day of Rally Sardinia in fifth spot – leads the standings by 18 points and could, in theory, have been crowned champ on Sunday.
The 31-year-old set the fastest time on stage three on Friday in his Toyota Gazoo Racing WRC car.
SS6 Tergu-Osilo 1 (12.81 km): Conditions really counting against @SebOgier and @ElfynEvans at the end of the day – they finish it 4th and 5th respectively. @KalleRovanpera is 9th following an issue through the final two tests. #Toyota #YarisWRC #WRC #RallyItaly pic.twitter.com/MBEMpbU8CJ
— Toyota GAZOO Racing WRT (@TGR_WRC) October 9, 2020
But Evans was at a disadvantage being first on the road meaning he acted as a road-sweeper for cars coming behind him.
Evans ended the day +51.9 secs to leader Daniel Sordo with his team-mate and title rival Sebastien Ogier fourth overall, +36.0 secs down.
The Dolgellau-born racer leads the standings by 18 points from Ogier.
Monza will be the eighth round of the disrupted championship – a total seen by rally bosses as a sufficient number to justify world championship titles being awarded.
But there is still concern whether next month’s Ypres Rally Belgium will still go-ahead because of the rising number of coronavirus cases in the area.
Rally Monza will comprise around 135 miles of stages in and around the Formula One track in Monza Parkthough stages on Saturday will be on closed public roads in Lombardy.
“As the final round of the championship, there’s a strong chance both the drivers’ and manufacturers’ WRC titles could go right down to the wire on Monza’s roads,” WRC Promoter managing director Jona Siebel said.
“The WRC prides itself on rewarding rallying’s best all-round driver across multiple terrains and varied conditions. This type of rally is rare in our championship but will provide a thrilling finale to an unpredictable year.”