Elfyn Evans wrote himself into the history books as he secured a famous home victory at the Wales Rally GB.
The Welshman, who hails from Dolgellau, became the first British driver in 17 years to land Britain’s stage of the FIA World Rally Championship with an imperious display across the four-day event around North Wales, Deeside and Chester, and is the first ever Welsh driver to win any event on the WRC calendar.
Evans led virtually throughout the epic contest that saw the world's finest rally drivers and co-drivers tackle almost 200 miles of the most demanding forest tracks.
Evans– navigated by Lancashire's Daniel Barritt – reached the finish at Brenig Reservoir some 37.3 seconds ahead of his closest rival to complete a memorable victory that delighted the huge and enthusiastic home crowd.
After coming agonisingly close to winning in Argentina earlier this season – missing out by less than a second after more than three-and-a-half hours of racing – Evans has now broken his WRC duck and in fine style, joining British legends Roger Clark, Colin McRae and Richard Burns as the fourth homegrown hero to inscribe his name on the hallowed Peall Trophy.
“It's been a good rally,” said a delighted Evans, who has just three full seasons under his belt in the WRC elite.
“I'm incredibly grateful to everybody that has stood by me through all these years – to get to this point has taken a lot. To all the people who have supported me and backed me – this is for you! And this result only makes us even hungrier for more.”
The 28-year-old's success also helped to secure the coveted WRC Manufacturers' title for independent British outfit M-Sport – based just up the road in Cumbria – and a fifth consecutive Drivers' World Championship crown for team-mate Sébastien Ogier, who finished third on-the-road in Wales.
“It's been a good race, with some fantastic stages,” Evans added.
“I think the conditions played into our hands a bit, so we had to try to make the most of that and I felt we managed the situation pretty well. We took the DMACK tyres right to the very limit and they responded brilliantly.
“I'm happy with our performance through the tricky night stages; in Aberhirnant, we could barely make out the edge of the road, let alone what was in front of us but we pushed on and I was glad to get through that one.
“I must say, the fans have been incredible – to see so many spectators lining the stages and road sections is fantastic. On long days like this, it's vital to stay focussed and that support really gives us an extra boost.”
See full story in the County Times