Elfyn Evans and co-driver Scott Martin before start in Casino Square. Pic: Toyota Gaza Racing

Evans Above….Elfyn Blasts Into Early Lead On The Monte

By Gareth James

Elfyn Evans launched his World Rally Championship campaign in scintillating style on the Monte Carlo Rally.

The Dolgellau ace won the opening two stages as the season got underway in traditional fashion in the French Alps after the ceremonial launch in Casino Square.

Even though warmer-than-usual temperatures meant less ice and snow than might normally be expected, the two night-time stages were still a test for the drivers.

Evans made a strong start in the first test from Thoard to Saint-Geniez, where he was fastest by 5.2 seconds.

Then the Toyota Gazoo Racing driver was even further clear in the second stage between Bayons and Bréziers, where he was quickest by 6.8s.

The 35-year-old leads the rally by 15.1s over Thierry Neuville (Hyundai), with Sebastien Ogier in third position just 6.5s further back. Takamoto Katsuta rounds out the top six overall, 46.3s away.

“It’s been a pretty good evening. We had a good clean run in the first stage, the feeling was quite OK,” said Evans.

“It’s quite an abrasive stage that’s hard on the tyres so it’s difficult to know if you’re using enough of the grip. Stage two was then quite a bit more complicated, there was quite a lot of dampness around combined with a shiny surface so the grip was low.

“The objective tonight was to get through cleanly more than anything so of course I’m happy but it’s just the beginning and there’s a very long way to go.”

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