M-Sport smashing its rivals in Wales, Evans leads after Day 1

M-Sport smashing its rivals in Wales, Evans leads after Day 1

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The M-Sport team is smashing its rivals at the beginning of Dayinsure Wales Rally GB. Elfyn Evans is first in the overall standings after the first day. His teammates Ott Tanak and Sebastien Ogier are second and third – at 24.5sec and 26.8sec respectively behind the Welshman.

Elfyn Evans gave the huge crowds lining the Welsh forests plenty of reason to cheer today, by becoming the first British driver to lead on home soil for 16 years

Evans set the pace on yesterday’s Shakedown. He headed into Friday’s action in a quietly confident mood. Friday’s leg was in the famous mid-Wales forests and comprised of two passes of the Myherin, Sweet Lamb and Hafren speed tests.

Tens of thousands of enthusiastic partisan supporters lined the stages to watch the M-Sport World Rally Team ace – who hails from Dolgellau – sprint clear of all of his rivals. Evans won three of the six special stages behind the wheel of his DMACK-tyred Ford Fiesta WRC. His performance made Elfyn the first British driver to lead Britain’s round of the FIA World Rally Championship since the late Colin McRae back in 2001.

“It’s obviously nice to be leading the way in Wales. And it’s a good position to be in overnight,” said Evans. “It’s been great to see so many fans out on the stages and all the Welsh flags – particularly at ‘Elfyn’s Corner’ in Myherin. So it was good to be able to reward them by going fastest on both runs through there.”

“The conditions were really challenging. The grip levels were so changeable and we had a bit of understeer. But I think that was the same for everyone. There’s obviously pressure leading your home event, but it’s all going well at the moment.”

“Tomorrow will be familiar territory for me, but you never know how it’s going to work out and there’s still a long way to go – it’s certainly not going to be plain sailing. Whatever happens, though, we’ll certainly be giving it our all.”

Behind the local favourite, the scrap for the 2017 Drivers’ World Championship crown intensified as Ott Tanak, Sebastien Ogier and Thierry Neuville fought hammer-and-tongs over the second position

Just 12.5 seconds separates the trio. The Belgian picked up a ten-second time penalty for a late check-in on Thursday night’s Visit Conwy Tir Prince curtain-raiser.

Following a visit to Chester for a city centre parade and autograph session, crews return to the Deeside Rally Village tonight for an evening service halt – ahead of tomorrow’s longest and most demanding day of the rally.

An early start precedes nine special stages totalling close to 90 competitive miles, with Evans sure to feel at home as the route through Gartheiniog goes quite literally past his back door on the southern edge of Snowdonia National Park. Saturday’s action also includes the family-friendly Toyota RallyFest at Cholmondeley Castle in Shropshire, before culminating in the additional challenge of the eagerly-anticipated night-time stages through Aberhirnant and Dyfnant.

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