(M-Sport release, 14/6/2013) HAVING had to forfeit his entry for next week’s Rally Italia Sardegna, Nasser Al-Attiyah has offered his Qatar World Rally Team Ford Fiesta RS WRC to M-Sport’s latest talent – 2012 FIA WRC Academy Cup winner Elfyn Evans.
(Coates Hire Rally Australia adds: Evans’ WRC-car debut follows his appearance in the East Coast Bullbars Australian Rally Championship opening round in Canberra in March, when he drove a Fiesta R2 for Innate Motorsport.)
Forced to miss the seventh round of the FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) due to commitments in Qatar, Al-Attiyah thought it only fit that his seat go to the rising Welsh star, presenting Evans with his World Rally Car debut somewhat earlier than expected.
Al-Attiyah’s co-driver, Giovanni Bernacchini, will co-pilot the Welshman throughout the Sardinian stages – his extensive knowledge something the youngster will be eager to capitalise on during an event he has never contested, let alone behind the wheel of M-Sport’s top-specification Fiesta.
Despite being unable to score team points for the Qatar World Rally Team, Evans will be eligible for WRC driver points.
But the youngster won’t be concentrating on the top points next week. Taking full advantage of the opportunity, the Welshman aims to further increase his knowledge and experience ahead of a long-awaited return to the WRC 2 category with the all-new Ford Fiesta R5 at Neste Oil Rally Finland.
Elfyn Evans said:
“This is another absolutely fantastic opportunity for me and I want to say a huge thank-you to Nasser [Al-Attiyah] and Malcolm [Wilson] for considering me for the drive.
“It will be great to get back behind the wheel in competition, but it will certainly be a challenging event! This will be my first time in Sardinia, my first time in a WRC car and my first time with Giovanni [Bernacchini, co-driver]. But with the team behind me and Giovanni’s extensive experience, I know that I will be in capable hands.
“My aim for the event is just to enjoy it and gain further experience. I’m learning all the time, and if I can make it through all of the stages on this tricky event then I’ll be happy. The most important thing at the moment is to get as much competitive seat time as possible, and that will be my main goal next weekend.”
Team Principal, Malcolm Wilson OBE, said:
“It is a huge shame that Nasser [Al-Attiyah] won’t be with the team in Sardinia, but unfortunately he has commitments back home in Qatar. Elfyn [Evans] thoroughly deserves this opportunity. He is learning fast, and as he works towards more rounds during the latter half of the season, the added competition – this time behind the wheel of the [Ford] Fiesta RS WRC – will be extremely valuable.”