Fear not. The Welsh clouds weren’t going to disappoint. Just make it a little easier. While memories of the deluge of 2015 were a little too close in the memory for some, the sight of wet stages brought joy for most. Puddles were filled ready to be emptied by the coolest water-shifters in the world. This was rallying at its British best.
And still, Evans plowed on ahead. Through the stages that basically go past his front door. Dyfi was ticked off, Dyfnant brushed aside, even heavy fog developing in the thick darkness of the night stages couldn’t stop the Welsh wonder. This might actually happen they said. But shhh, don’t curse it.
Curse? What curse? There’s nothing that can stop M-Sport this weekend. Unless you’re Ott Tanak of course. The Estonian had a slim chance of wrestling that title away from the clutches of Ogier when he arrived in Wales, fresh with a new contract with Toyota in the back pocket. But it wasn’t to be. The fog did for Tanak’s challenge. But for the other two Cumbrian cars this was a weekend of unrivaled joy. First Ogier crossed the line and handed Malcolm Wilson’s group that most precious of gems: their first WRC driver’s title. Then Evans rounded the day off. He had kept his pace steady, but competitive on day three. No wishes for extra points from the power stage here, just a steely determination to end that British hoodoo. As he crossed the line everyone cried. The spirits of Clark, McRae and Burns smiled, and Britain had a rallying hero once more.
This was a Wales Rally GB of triumph, an event that dragged itself back from a doldrum in the late-‘00s to absolute excellence in ’17. Never have the stages looked so packed, never have so many cars had to find crowded space on the road beyond the allotted car parks, never had so many been seen walking literal miles just to get anywhere near the stages. It was magical, just how the British round of the WRC should always seem.
Photography by Ben Miles