Elfyn Evans will be looking to rack up mileage and add to his burgeoning World Rally Championship experience as he returns to Germany for the first all-tarmac round of the 2014 campaign.
The M-Sport World Rally Team driver hopes to make an impression on the asphalt as he and co-driver Daniel Barritt embark on the second phase of their WRC development. Evans is anticipating an easier transition to his top-specification Fiesta on asphalt, but remains true to his character as one of the championship's most grounded young talents.
The Welshman takes a wealth of four-wheel-drive experience into the fearsome ADAC Rallye Deutschland, having secured a highly impressive sixth place behind the wheel of his Ford Fiesta R5 in 2013, but his attention remains firmly fixed on gaining the vital knowledge and experience to support his future ambitions.
“This is an event that I've been looking forward to all season,” Evans enthused, “It's the first round of the year where we will have some substantial four-wheel-drive experience to carry forward and we drove a really good event here last year. I felt confident all weekend and I hope to carry some of that confidence forward next week.
“We're used to the speed of a world rally car now, so I don't expect the transition to be as marked as it was on gravel, but my primary objective remains the same. Experience is everything in this sport and that is what we will be focusing on. There is no pressure to be pushing for the top results just yet. This is the first of three tarmac events, so it's important to get the mileage, gain momentum and secure the base knowledge that is so vital to doing well at this level.”
Regarded as three rallies in one, the German round is unique. Incorporating marked variation in character, the blacktop stages demand precision driving and expert preparation, while changing grip levels and unpredictable forecasts force crews to master a blend of speed and adaptability.
Littered with junctions and tight hairpin bends, the angular tracks through the Mosel vineyards offer a stark contrast to the country roads of Saarland, where the Ford Fiesta RS WRCs are let loose at maximum speed. But it is arguably the perilous dash between the concrete Hinkelsteins
of the Panzerplatte for which the event has become famed.
“I really enjoy the technical nature of the German stages and generally feel fairly confident on asphalt,” Evans continued, “It's not an easy event by all means - it's the most difficult of the pure tarmac rallies with unpredictable weather, mud and plenty of obstacles to avoid!
“It's effectively three rallies in one with tight, twisty sections through the vineyards, broken asphalt on the military ground and wide country roads in Saarland. If you're going for the top positions, you need to be on the pace through every change of surface. You can't sit back and let the speed come gradually….
“I don't have a specific result in mind, but we'd like to see some good progression and positive stage times throughout the weekend. It would be nice to improve on last year and, if we can do that, then I think it will be a very positive event for us.”