Good Evan’s, we have a new title contender

| Photographer Credit: Peter Whitten

Four weeks ago, you’d have been laughed out of the pub for suggesting that Elfyn Evans was an even bet with Ott Tanak to win the 2020 World Rally Championship.

In fact, the thought was so fanciful that it bordered on being disrespectful to the Estonian.

Not any more.

Evans has taken to his new Toyota Yaris WRC like a duck to water, while Tanak is yet to fully come to grips with his Hyundai i20 WRC.

Even now, after a Swedish Rally win and third place in Monte Carlo, many are doubting that Evans is a real threat to the WRC title, but the stats don’t lie.

A poll taken after Rally Sweden saw 85% of fans believing that Evans’s move to Toyota was a better one than Tanak’s to Hyundai. It’s hard to argue with that.

Both Evans and Tanak started their WRC careers at M-Sport, winning their first WRC rallies with the Blue Oval, before moving on to Toyota for more money and to enhance their WRC title hopes.

The Yaris is clearly the best car in the championship right now. But for mechanical woes in 2018, Tanak should have two world titles to his credit, while the Welshman is already proving that a great driver in a great car will always excel.

As the Welsh fans rejoice, the Estonians (including Tanak) must be wondering if their man has made the right move.

The Hyundai is a car that suits Thierry Neuville like a glove, but others, including Hayden Paddon, and perhaps Tanak too, have taken time to come to grips with it.

After his massive accident in Monte Carlo, Tanak bounced back with second place in Sweden, but he never really hit anything near winning pace over the snow-less shortened event.

Time will tell if Evans’ early season speed is a false alarm, and if Tanak bounces back like everyone expects he will.

For now though, Evans has been added to the three-way fight between Tanak, Neuville and Ogier for the WRC, and at this stage, he holds the upper hand.

You would have got good odds on that scenario at the start of January!

Peter Whitten

Peter has been the editor of RallySport Magazine since its inception in 1989, in both printed and online form. He is a long-time competitor, event organiser and official, as well as working in the media.

http://rallysportmag.com

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