M-Sport boss Malcolm Wilson has backed British ace Elfyn Evans as a dark horse for next year’s World Rally Championship title with his team.
Welshman Evans will drive M-Sport’s second Ford Fiesta WRC next season as team-mate to five-time world champion Sebastien Ogier, who announced a one-year extension with the team this week.
The deal marks Evans’ return to M-Sport’s main team after two years away. He won the British Rally Championship title in 2016 before returning to the WRC this year to drive a DMACK-backed Fiesta, which was run by M-Sport.
Wilson said that although Ogier will go into 2018 as the man to beat, Evans could surprise a few people.
“If I were you I’d consider a small wager on Elfyn for next year,” said Wilson.
“I genuinely think, the way he’s progressed through this season, he could be in with a shout of next year’s title. I still believe Sebastien will go into the season as favourite, but the competition is going to be closer than ever [in 2018].”
Wilson added that working alongside Ogier would benefit Evans.
“Seb’s a genuine class act and having him with us raises everybody’s game – we saw that with Elfyn and Ott [Tanak] this year and I have no doubt we’ll see it with Elfyn again next season,” he added.
Evans secured his maiden WRC triumph on Wales Rally GB this year, and finished fifth in the championship points. He said he was keen to push harder in 2018.
“After a fantastic season for the whole team, it’s great that we’ll be a part of it again next year,” said Evans.
“After getting that first victory under our belts, we’re ready to take the next step and I think we all have another exciting season ahead of us. Honestly, I can’t wait to get back behind the wheel and Rallye Monte-Carlo can’t come soon enough.
“We’ll be working hard over the Christmas break to ensure we’re fully prepared, and the goal will be to build on the success of this year.”