M-Sport's Elfyn Evans took a "strong" fifth on Wales Rally GB last weekend, the 2014 WRC season finale.

Evans was taking in the event for the first time in a World Rally car, but despite that ran in the top-seven throughout and gradually upped his pace, going second quickest in SS20, as well as posting a trio of fourth quickest times on the final day.

"I think we would have taken fifth place at the start of the event for sure," the Welshman said at the finish. "We knew before the rally started that even bettering our result from last year [eighth in the Fiesta R5] would have been a good achievement given the depth of the entry. To come away in fifth is strong and I think we've managed to show some good speed along the way.

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"There were areas where we could have been better, but all in all it's been a good weekend and a good way to finish off the year. I can't wait to start next season now. We've got a lot more experience and I'm looking forward to what I hope will be another successful season at this level."

Asked to assess his season - his first at the top level in a top-spec WRC car - he replied: "This year has been a solid start to my WRC career - a bit up-and-down, but we have an excellent bank of experience to build upon in the future. Next year will be the most important one for me to really prove that we can compete at the highest level."

"The team has been great all year too," he added. "I've got on really well with the guys and I'm really looking forward to continuing with them next year.

"I owe a massive thanks to M-Sport and Malcolm Wilson in particular for giving me this opportunity and trusting me in the car, and now we are in a really good position to make progress going forward."

Evans also paid tribute to out-going team-mate Mikko Hirvonen, who announced his retirement from the sport at the start of the month.

"I want to wish Mikko all the best. I really couldn't have wished for a better team mate this year," Evans continued. "He and Jarmo [Lehtinen, Mikko's co-driver] have been so willing to share their experience over the year and if I can achieve anything like his CV at the end of my career then I would be very proud indeed.

"It was great to see him end such an influential career with such a positive result [too - by taking second place] and I know that the whole team will really miss him and Jarmo in 2015."

Meanwhile, M-Sport boss Malcolm Wilson reckoned Evans' performance in Wales was his best of the year on gravel.

"Elfyn has had a really good weekend. He did exactly what was asked of him and came away with a strong fifth place. He didn't let the pressure of being at home get to him at all and showed some really encouraging speed along the way," Wilson stated. "I think it is fair to say that this has been one of his best performances on gravel all season and we are all really looking forward to seeing what he can do with a year of experience under his belt next year."