By Gareth James
Elfyn Evans is ready to venture into the unknown when he resumes his World Rally Championships bid in Croatia this week.
The Dolgellau-born racer gets his challenge underway with the opening stage on Friday on an event that is new to the WRC calendar.
“Croatia is an all-new event so we don’t know exactly what to expect,” said Evans. “We’ve been able to study videos of the stages to learn as much as we can, but nothing can substitute actually being there on the recce and seeing the route for real.
“The stages look quite mixed, with some wide fast parts and some very narrow bumpy parts, and there could be quite a lot of cutting.
Our crews are in the middle of two very important days doing the recce for #CroatiaRally 🇭🇷@scottmartinat explains how he and @ElfynEvans write pacenotes for an all-new rally ✍️#ToyotaGAZOORacing #PushingTheLimitsForBetter #WRC pic.twitter.com/kRjuVCEoUz
— TOYOTA GAZOO Racing WRT (@TGR_WRC) April 21, 2021
“So it looks like we need to be quite adaptable to the different surfaces and different character of stages that we’ll face.
“We don’t have masses of experience with this car on dry asphalt or with the Pirelli tyres, so in testing we were trying quite a few different settings. But the feeling in the car was generally positive straight away from the first runs.”
Evans goes into the event fourth in the standings having finished second on the season opener in Monte Carlo before taking fifth place at the Arctic Rally.
The Toyota Gazoo Racing driver is level on points with team-mate and reigning champ Sebastien Ogier on 31 points. Fellow Toyota driver Kalle Rovanpera leads the standings on 39 points, four ahead of Belgium’s Thierry Neuville.
The rally will be based in the capital city Zagreb and be run over a variety of different asphalt roads. A mixture of worn and smooth surfaces is expected, and while some sections will be fast and flowing, other parts will be more narrow and twisting.
After a shakedown close to Zagreb on Thursday morning, the rally will begin on Friday morning with the first of 20 stages totalling 300 competitive kilometres over three days.
The first two days take place to the south-west of the city, each one consisting of two loops of four stages split by mid-day service. Sunday then takes the crews north for a final pair of tests, both to be run twice.