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Evans wins 2012 WRC Academy with Pirelli

Welshman Elfyn Evans has become the second-ever winner of the Pirelli-supported WRC Academy on the FIA World Rally Championship: a series designed to identify the champions of the future by pitting young drivers against each other in identical Ford Fiesta R2 rally cars.

Evans took his fourth consecutive win this year on the all-asphalt Rallye de France to put the title mathematically out of reach of his rivals, even though there is one round of the Academy left to go in Spain at the end of the year.

Based in Strasbourg, the rally route took competitors around the slippery asphalt roads of the Vosges region, characterised by hills and vineyards, with traction and grip at a premium on the changeable and dirty surfaces.

With uncertain weather conditions added into the equation, having the right tyre was essential. Pirelli brought its renowned RX5 tyres – a versatile compound tyre capable of operating effectively on a wide variety of dry and damp surfaces – and the RE7 for wet conditions. On the final afternoon of the rally, the drivers all took the RE tyres as two spares in the anticipation of predicted rain, and some also used it on the spectator superspecial on Thursday night.

Both tyres performed extremely effectively in the challenging conditions, providing the young drivers with the grip and confidence that they needed to make their mark on the Alsace roads where multiple world rally champion Sebastien Loeb learned to drive.

Evans took the lead on the first stage of Friday, fighting with championship frontrunners Alastair Fisher and Brendon Reeves. Fisher retired with a broken engine while Reeves dropped back after a loose stone cut a tyre, leaving Evans with a 30-second lead by Friday lunchtime. He then faced the pressure of managing his advantage all the way to the finish over 16 stages and 342 competitive kilometres, to eventually win by 42.5 seconds from Jose Suarez and seal the title together with co-driver Phil Pugh.