Things have started extremely well for Elfyn Evans at the Toyota Gazoo Racing World Rally Team. He has led both rounds of the WRC this year – finishing third in Monte Carlo and becoming the first British driver to win Rally Sweden – and now he’s followed up his fastest time set over the Rally Mexico shakedown stage by setting second quickest time on both of the opening Guanajuato street stages.

Co-driven by Scott Martin, Elfyn goes into today’s gravel stages lying second in Mexico, 1.1 seconds behind Thierry Neuville/Nicolas Gilsoul (Hyundai) and 0.8 seconds ahead of Ott Tänak/Martin Järveoja (Hyundai).

Today will be tricky for Elfyn, for as WRC leader he will run first on the road, sweeping the loose gravel in his Yaris WRC to leave a cleaner surface for his rivals running behind.

But with the next round in Argentina postponed owing to the coronavirus outbreak, and rallies in Portugal and Italy to follow in May and June, this may be the last WRC event until Rally Kenya in mid-July. All the drivers therefore know they have to make the most of this weekend, and score big on one of the few international sporting events that are still actually taking place.

This is what Elfyn had to say before Rally Mexico started.

Elfyn, joint championship leader with Thierry Neuville as we head into Rally México. From what you experienced during Shakedown this morning, how difficult do you feel it will be to get a good result?
“It has been a good start to the year. Obviously we are happy to be in this position rather than where I normally am at this point in the season. It might not be the ideal road position for me here, but I still wouldn’t change it.”

From what you have seen on the recce for day one, how much do you think you are going to be hampered?
“I really don’t know, to be honest. The three stages have a slightly different surface. But I really don’t know what the effect is going to be. Of course, there will be a cleaning effect. We know this when we drive a gravel rally. We have to see what the times say.”

Generally, how was the feeling of the Toyota Yaris at altitude? I believe you have been doing a great deal to prepare yourself physically for the altitude?
“I think, to be honest, the altitude side is not so easy to adapt to. From what I am told anyway, you need weeks at altitude to fully acclimatize so you can only take an edge off, really. It’s more just to get used to the heat. We don’t get so much in Wales during December, January and February, so I guess we try and get used to the heat and try and adapt as best as possible.”

You are the championship leader in a joint points’ situation. This is the best position you have been in at this point of a season. Why do you think the change has come about in terms of your driving and confidence level?
“I think we had a really bad season in 2018. Since, and towards the end of that year, I started to put in a few better performances to change the way I did things a little bit. It was starting to take effect last year and it has been working for me so far this year. Perhaps, not to be quite as wild and concentrate more on the technique rather than keeping the right foot down everywhere.”

Elfyn Evans and Scott Martin wear Stilo WRC DES Zero helmets.

Elfyn Evans, Mexico, FIA World Rally Championship, Toyota Gazoo Racing