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Ulster winner Evans on the verge of world title delight

 

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Welsh wizard: Elfyn Evans is closing in on winning his first world rally title

Welsh wizard: Elfyn Evans is closing in on winning his first world rally title

Welsh wizard: Elfyn Evans is closing in on winning his first world rally title

On a wet August weekend four years ago, Elfyn Evans won the Ulster Rally to become British champion. By this Sunday afternoon, he could be world champion.

The 27-year-old Welshman starts tomorrow's final round of the WRC series with a 14-point lead over his Toyota team-mate Sebastien Ogier and 24 in front of Hyundai's Thierry Neuville.

It looks a straightforward mission - stay in touch with Ogier and Neuville and the title will be his; the first driver from Wales to win the Championship and the first from Britain in almost 20 years.

But nothing about the past 12 months has been straightforward, starting with Ott Tanak winning the world title for Toyota and immediately jumping ship to Hyundai.

His move triggered a reshuffling of the pack by Toyota boss Tommi Makinen which saw Kris Meeke and Jari-Matti Latvala jettisoned to make way for Evans and Ogier, who quit Ford and Hyundai respectively.

Then, after just three rounds which saw Neuville, Evans and Ogier record victories, coronavirus sent the series into hibernation for six months and the drivers returned in September to an on/off Championship, reduced to just four more rallies.

A second win for Evans in Turkey took him clear at the top of the standings heading into this weekend's Rally Monza, traditionally a final end-of-season fling in and around the historic Italian Grand Prix circuit.

But, desperate to reach the minimum seven-rally mark which constitutes a World Championship, the WRC promoters reached out to the Monza organisers who have turned their fun event into a three-day shoot-out for the world title.

Few expected Evans, a frequent visitor to Irish events in his younger days, to be in this position - not with six-time champion Ogier heading the Toyota team - but he has made the most of the bizarre circumstances of 2020 to put himself in a position to emulate two of the greats of British rallying, Colin McRae and Richard Burns.

Belfast Telegraph


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