By Paul Evans
Meirion Evans had to admit that you can’t win them all, although it speaks volumes for his driving ability and competitive nature that he feels slightly disappointed to have finished second on a rally in Ireland – beaten only by a former Irish Tarmac rally champion.
But that’s what the 26-year old Lampeter-born driver felt after finishing runner-up on the Wexford Rally at the weekend in his Scan Station-backed Volkswagen Polo GTI R5.
The Melvyn Evans Motorsport team driver led after the opening loop of two stages, his intermediate Michelin Pilot Sport competition tyres ideally suited to the wet conditions.
But when loose gravel and mud littered the drying roads on the second and third passes, conditions Evans is less accustomed too, he and co-driver Jonathan Jackson (Colwyn Bay) decided to settle for the runners-up spot, eventually finishing 29.7 seconds behind Josh Moffett/Andy Hayes (Hyundai i20 R5).
The result continues Evans’ excellent run of success in 2021 – where on five rallies he has won the Argyll Rally in Scotland and the Three Shires Rally in England, finished second in Wexford and on the Cork 20 International Rally in Ireland and third on the Rallye Du Boulonnais in France.
“I’ve got to the point where I’m not totally happy about finishing second, which I should accept as a good thing at this point in my career,” says Evans.
“I’m still pleased with the day. We had pretty good pace and it’s important that we can learn from it and improve in the right areas for the future.
“We made a good start in Wexford. The first two stages were wet and we had opened up a six and a half second lead by the time we arrived at first service.
“We stayed on the Michelin intermediate tyres for the second loop and they worked very well on the whole.
“The problem was all the gravel and mud that had been pulled out onto the road – in some places it was more like a gravel rally and I didn’t have the confidence to throw the car in, so I lost a bit of time in those sections, then the second stage of the loop was fully dry so we lost some more time there.
“The roads were very narrow with ditches and hedges either side, and I just felt that I was driving as fast as I wanted to in those tricky conditions. It’s good to know where I lost time and it’s something I’ll have to work on over the winter.
“You are pretty much guaranteed to find really nasty conditions like those once or twice in a season of doing Irish rallies and I’m too competitive to sit back and just accept that when there is a lot of loose gravel and mud on the road that I’ll lose time.
“I think I’ll have to do some gravel testing in the car and become more comfortable and confident when conditions demand that it’s simply quicker to get the back of the car sliding into and through corners.
“It’s not my natural driving style, but it’s cost me a chance of a win once and I don’t want it to happen again.
“I can’t be too greedy and in rallying you can’t win everything! Finishing second to a former Irish Tarmac champion isn’t too bad and it’s been a good season with five podium finishes from five starts.”