Evans started the WRC season opener strongly, winning the opening two stages before going on to lead the rally at the end of Friday.
However, on Saturday the Welshman dropped away from the victory fight after losing the feeling behind the wheel of his GR Yaris as the asphalt roads became dirtier. He also lost ground to a hybrid issue on stage 10.
Evans did end the rally strongly, finishing third outright and second in the ‘Super Sunday’ classification, which earned him six points under the new points system. As a result, Evans left Monte Carlo with 21 points, his highest ever haul at the event, just nine points behind the early championship leader, Hyundai’s Neuville.
Reflecting on Evans’ performance, Latvala praised his driver’s foresight to maximise championship points in a challenging environment.
“He started really well, and I think he was very confident on Friday being first on the road, [that] was really good,” Latvala told Motorsport.com.
“Then, when the road position was changed, maybe he couldn’t exactly get the set-up working as when he was the first car on the road and was not as comfortable when there were more cuts.
“He couldn’t match the speed [of Neuville and Toyota’s Ogier] so he backed off a bit on Saturday to make sure he was thinking about the championship. What you need for the championship is a solid start in Monte, and if you score a zero it adds a lot of pressure to your championship.
“I think Elfyn was calculating and thinking about the championship overall, which is a clever call if you don’t have that feeling in the car.”
Photo by: Toyota Racing
Elfyn Evans, Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT
Evans admitted his weekend was disappointing after making such a strong start to the rally, and is keen to understand why he lost the “feeling” on Saturday.
“The end result is not so bad and ultimately not so far off the target, but given the position we were in Friday evening it is obviously a disappointing weekend,” Evans told Motorsport.com.
“It was a difficult Saturday of course as we lost the feeling in the car in the conditions that we had, and on Sunday morning it seemed to be a bit better again.
“I need to understand why that was the case and make sure we don’t fall into the same trap again…