M-Sport’s Elfyn Evans maintained his overall lead of his home event, Rally GB in Wales on Saturday in the DMACK Ford Fiesta.
The Welshman and co-driver Daniel Barritt hold a lead of 53.1s over team mate and championship leader Sebastien Ogier. Speaking following Saturday’s action, Evans commented by saying:
It’s been a really good day for us and a really enjoyable one as well. I’ve always enjoyed these stages but I have to say that I was glad to get through the night stages!
“They really were tough. With the fog on Aberhirnant [SS15] you couldn’t even see the road in front of you so it was very, very challenging. But we made it through and actually managed to increase our lead.
“That’s given us a good cushion for tomorrow and there aren’t so many kilometres left, but they’re not easy. There are some very tricky stages coming up with a lot of big breaking areas into not a lot of run off and Gwydir [SS19] is massively technical and not been in use since 2013. There’s plenty in there tomorrow, so we need to keep focused and keep at it.
Sebastien Ogier is on the verge of winning the 2017 World Rally Championship with M-Sport following another strong Saturday. Despite the great say for Ogier he goes into Sunday’s action just .6 of a second ahead of Hyundai’s Thierry Nueville and speaking following the Saturday run, Ogier commented by saying:
It’s been a tricky day and we’ve been lacking some pace compared to yesterday. We need to understand why that was, but I’m just happy to be here after this evening’s night stages!
“When you drive in conditions as challenging as the ones we faced tonight, there is no way of making it risk free. Do that and you can easily lose a minute or more. The visibility really was terrible at times, but we just decided to go for it.
“It was so close between second and fifth that I had to try and it was working pretty well up until the last kilometre when I didn’t see an almost none existent corner. We hit the bank in the fog, damaged the front-left wheel, lost the brakes and honestly thought it would be difficult to finish the day.
“Without the brakes it would have been un-driveable but we managed to close the damaged system and carry on with only three brakes. Somehow, it was still possible to drive and we didn’t lose too much time.
“With only small gaps between a lot of drivers, and 40 kilometres left to complete, we’ll have to keep pushing if we want to stay on the podium.
Ott Tanak goes into his final day as an M-Sport driver before switching to Toyota Gazoo Racing for 2018 in sixth place overall in the rally and speaking following his day he commented by saying:
It has been a long, tricky day, but also a typical Wales Rally GB day. There was just one really foggy stage where we lost a lot of time. For sure it’s disappointing, but it’s done now and that’s how it is. The gaps behind Elfyn aren’t too big so let’s see what we can do tomorrow. Hopefully we can show more pace than today and be able to fight. It will be an interesting day for sure.
M-Sport Team Principal Malcolm Wilson commented on Saturday’s action by saying:
It’s been another thrilling day out on the stages which just goes to underline how exciting this season has been. It’s great to see, and it’s great to see our guys leading the way.
“Elfyn has had another fantastic day and really dominated his home stages. We knew this event would be good for him, and he certainly deserves the victory this weekend.
“We lost a little bit of pace with Sébastien and Ott which we can’t quite pin-point at the moment, but Sébastien did a fantastic job through the night stages. His performance through the last stage with only three brake discs was incredible and just goes to show that he and Julien are as good a mechanics as they are driver and co-driver!
“It’s all looking good at the moment, but I’ve been in this game long enough to know that it’s never over until it’s over. There are still five very challenging stages to go, and we need to keep that focus if we want to get the job done.