Record breaking Wales Rally GB crowds celebrate historic home success
North Wales driver Elfyn Evans capped a spectacularly successful Dayinsure Wales Rally GB this weekend, becoming the first British driver to win on home soil in the FIA World Rally Championship since 2000.
Over 100,000 spectators lined the classic Welsh forest stages to watch Evans seize control of his home rally from the early stages.
Overcoming not only the threat posed by his rivals but also characteristically challenging weather conditions including dense fog on Saturday evening, the Dolgellau driver made the most of the DMACK tyres on his M-Sport run Ford Fiesta WRC.
Expertly navigated by Lancashire-based co-driver Daniel Barritt, he sprinted clear of his pursuers and ultimately reached the finish line at the end of Sunday’s Brenig Power Stage some 37.3 seconds ahead of his nearest competitor.
In so doing, Evans joined British rallying legends Roger Clark, Colin McRae and Richard Burns as only the fourth homegrown driver ever to triumph on the event, and the 28-year-old is the first Welsh driver to win any WRC rally.
“It feels pretty good, to be honest!” acknowledged Evans, whose father Gwyndaf lifted the British Rally Championship laurels back in 1996. “It’s been a long weekend – I feel like I could sleep for a week now! With Seb winning the Drivers’ title and the team the Manufacturers’ championship, it’s been a very special day.
“I’ve been very lucky to have a lot of support, not just from my family but also from a close network of people and obviously M-Sport, and to see everybody there waiting and cheering for us at the end of the Power Stage was an incredible feeling – I don’t think Llyn Brenig has ever been so busy!
“Following the Shakedown, we knew that if the conditions played in our favour, the speed was there to compete for victory, but you can never second-guess anything on this rally. You need to have a clean run with no problems, punctures, spins or mistakes. That’s often very difficult to achieve, but it’s exactly what we did and everything came together beautifully.
“After Thierry [Neuville] denied me in Argentina [where Evans was pipped to the win by 0.7 seconds], I was determined that nobody was going to get in my way this time. I like this feeling and now I want to experience it more often!”
Next year’s Dayinsure Wales Rally GB will take place on the earlier date of 4-7 October, 2018.
2017 Dayinsure Wales Rally GB Final Result
1. Elfyn Evans (GBR)/Daniel Barritt (GBR) – Ford Fiesta WRC 2h 57m 00.6s
2. Thierry Neuville (BEL)/Nicolas Gilsoul (BEL) – Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC +37.3s
3. Sébastien Ogier (FRA)/Julien Ingrassia (FRA) – Ford Fiesta WRC +45.2s
4. Andreas Mikkelsen (NOR)/Anders Jaeger (NOR) – Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC +49.8s
5. Jari-Matti Latvala (FIN)/Miikka Anttila (FIN) – Toyota Yaris WRC +50.3s
6. Ott Tänak (EST)/Martin Järveoja (EST) – Ford Fiesta WRC +1m 02.3s
7. Kris Meeke (GBR)/Paul Nagle (IRE) – Citroën C3 WRC +1m 20.5s
8. Hayden Paddon (NZL)/Sebastian Marshall (GBR) – Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC +2m 16.3s
9. Esapekka Lappi (FIN)/Janne Ferm (FIN) – Toyota Yaris WRC +2m 46.5s
10. Dani Sordo (ESP)/Marc Martí (ESP) – Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC +3m 50.5s