Meeke: 'World class' Evans Argentina tyre advantage talk unfair
|By David Evans||Wednesday, May 3rd 2017, 14:06 GMT|
Elfyn Evans's near-victorious World Rally Championship performance in Argentina was down to his driving, not a DMACK tyre advantage, says Kris Meeke.
Evans led Rally Argentina from the second stage and looked set to become the first Welsh driver ever to a WRC round - and the fifth Briton - until he lost out by seven-tenths of a second to Hyundai's Thierry Neuville in a final-stage decider.
Much was made of the performance of the latest version of DMACK's soft tyre and it being better suited to the Argentinian stages than the Michelin.
Evans is the only factory WRC driver using DMACK rubber rather than Michelins, but Meeke said anyone putting his pace down to a tyre advantage was doing Evans a disservice.
"What Elfyn has done is incredible," Meeke told Autosport.
"I don't want anybody to talk about tyres, because those stages on Friday are some of the most fearsome stages in the world championship.
"They're so fast and narrow, it's pure commitment.
"Whether you have grip or not, you still have to commit to the road and he was world class there."
Meeke drew parallels between Evans's performance and his own maiden WRC win in Argentina in 2015.
"There's no doubt for me, Elfyn's right up there now," said Meeke.
"I remember going through the Ascochinga stage [in 2015] and just it clicked for me and I was able to do the times; you can see it's clicked for him now as well.
"He's got it, there's no question.
"To lead and dominate a rally like he has, his performance deserved a victory.
"It would have been nice for him to put his stamp on this one, but it really doesn't matter: he's shown what he can do."
While keen to ensure Evans got due credit for the Argentina result, Meeke said it also proved DMACK was now a victory threat in the right conditions.
"This is the first time this year where Elfyn could really shine with the tyre and he's absolutely done that," Meeke added.
"For sure we have to fear Elfyn now on every soft gravel rally and that starts with the next one in Portugal."
While admitting losing the win left him "absolutely gutted", Evans said he had learned a lot from Argentina.
"Maybe next week, I'll be able to look back and be pretty pleased with what we've done," he said.
"The biggest thing I think I've learned is what it takes at the very top level.
"In WRC2 or the British Rally Championship you can cruise a little bit and take a win here and there and win the championship.
"But the minute you start to cruise here the boys will take 10 or 15 seconds out of you in every stage.
"To feel that I can do it is so important as well. There are definitely times when you start to doubt, you start to think, 'Is it me?'"