by Rob Wilkins

TO HEAR THE INTERVIEW IN FULL WITH GWYNDAF EVANS: CLICK HERE

Gwyndaf Evans returned to the Mitsubishi fold on the Ulster International Rally last month, replacing the sacked Phillip Morrow. Crash.net Radio spoke to the Welshman last weekend at the Castle Combe Rallyday and got his thoughts ahead of the next round in the BRC, the Rally Yorkshire. We also chatted to him about how his own team, GEMsport, has got on this season in the Fiesta Sporting Trophy UK and Ireland series'...

Crash.net:
Gwyndaf, this is the eighth Rallyday at Castle Combe. That is quite difficult to believe isn't it?

Gwyndaf Evans:
Yeah it is - and the sun is out too! It is a beautiful day and everybody seems to be having a really good time here. We have just been watching the guys go around the track and it has been quite funny really [laughs].

Crash.net:
How important are events like this for the sport?

GE:
They are very, very important. It just brings everybody together and just shows what it is all about at the end of the day. It is a lovely chance to demonstrate and show off all the beautiful cars that are here.

Crash.net:
You have had a busy year, you launched your own team, GEMsport, back in January at the Autosport show and you are actually back competing with Mitsubishi in the BRC again now too. What is it like to be back with the works Mitsubishi squad?

GE:
It is a shock to the system to be honest. I didn't think it was ever really going to happen to come back and drive and being away for ten to eleven months it was a big shock - but a pleasant one. I did have half a days testing before Ulster and I found the Ulster quite difficult in as much as, having ten to eleven months away may not sound a lot, but it is a lot at that level. It took a few stages to get into things. Obviously I had a new co-driver as well. So a lot of new things to adapt too. But we got through unscathed and picked up a good third, which is what the team wanted. I am looking forward to the Trackrod now.

Crash.net:
Were you sad to go back in the circumstances, especially with Phillip Morrow having been given the boot?

GE: [pause] Obviously I was disappointed for Phillip. It is always tough when you lose a drive and he has huge aspirations to go forward and that was difficult. But at the end of the day it was nothing to do with me. I wasn't involved in it. I didn't really know anything about the situation because I was with GEMsport doing a rally the weekend of the Manx and hadn't really taken that much noticed of it. I can't say I was sorry to get a phone call asking: 'Do I want to drive on the Ulster?' But yes, it would have been nicer to return under a different situation.

Crash.net:
What are you hoping to achieve on the Rally Yorkshire?

GE:
More of the same in terms of what Mitsubishi want. We are there to do a job and I think they just want a strong second car to score good points and to support Guy [Wilks], who is trying to win the championship again. Quite clearly I can't win the championship as I am only doing a few rounds. Hopefully we can build seat time up as well. We are going to have a test pre-Trackrod and that will be good.

Crash.net:
Have you been confirmed yet for Rally GB?

GE:
I think it is rally-by-rally at the minute. But obviously if we can do a good job in Yorkshire that will help.

Crash.net:
Turning to GEMsport and the Fiesta Sporting Trophy - in terms of the championships it has been a successful year to date both in Ireland and the UK.

GE:
It has been very interesting and quite ironic to be reminded how it is on the other side of the fence. I don't think I realised how much sweat and hard work goes on behind the scenes. There is a lot more to car preparations and team preparations than I gave it all credit to be fair and with two 19-year-olds it has been quite a handful. But I must say we have got two of probably the brightest of the new generation coming up. They are both very, very talented and are both very, very quick. Both offer different angles of strengths and weaknesses and it has been very, very fascinating for me.

Crash.net:
Your son, Elfyn, is in contention to win both championships. Performance wise I guess he couldn't have done a lot better?

GE:
He has done a very good job and had a good season. Obviously it has been very difficult at times. The Donegal tragedy [when a spectator was killed] was by far the lowest thing I have ever experienced - and I am sure it was the same for him. Hopefully we won't ever have to deal with something like that again. It was an incredibly difficult time and it is not that we don't remember that tragic event - but Elfyn thank goodness, behind the wheel, has found a lot of strength and has dug deep. He has become a different person in a way. I thought maybe we would go a different road with him with the sport. I certainly offered him the chance to go and do something else. But he was determined to get back behind the wheel, which he did very, very quickly and to be honest, I am very touched and proud of the way he has gone about things since then. I don't think he has finished lower than second since and he has done it in a very controlled manner. I just hope he has a good weekend on the McRae Stages and on the Cork 22. It is very important and there is a lot resting on him. But he doesn't need to win. He just needs to finish both events and it looks good certainly in one championship, if not the other too. That will be fantastic if that happens for him and for the team, GEMsport. Meilyr Evans has done a good job as well and I do rate him as a driver.

Crash.net:
Have you been pleased with Meilyr?

GE:
At times I have been very, very pleased. But at times I have been very, very disappointed as well when he has been crashing it. I guess that is 19-year-olds though learning and learning the ropes. His speed has been impressive and his ability behind the wheel.

Crash.net:
Final question, the Trackrod weekend is going to be very, very busy isn't it? Not only are you competing, but GEMsport is taking in two events as well.

GE:
I am back on the spanners and back loading the vans tomorrow [Sunday, September 21]! We are splitting the team and we have cars going to Ireland mid-week [for the Cork 22] and then the other car is going up for the McRae Stages. I am going to hopefully fly straight after the Trackrod over to Cork to give my support. But they are going to be on the McRae without me. I am sure they will be fine.

TO HEAR THE INTERVIEW IN FULL WITH GWYNDAF EVANS: CLICK HERE