A new car and new career for Britain's world rally hope

Twenty-four-year-old Elfyn Evans starts his first professional season in M-Sport's newest car this weekend.

The Welsh driver will be taking on the best in the world at the rally's most prestigious venue in Finland.

Evans earned a place driving for M-Sport after winning the World Rally Championship (WRC) academy where he finished first in four of six races.

Earlier this month he finished sixth in a car borrowed from a team mate in Rally d-Italia Sardegna.

M-Sport's Fiesta R5 rally car is the first of a new class aimed to bridge the gap between amateur and professional making the sport more affordable.

Based on a standard Ford Fiesta ST, the body is about all that's left of the original car.

It will still cost you around £160,000 but will compete with cars almost three times that price.

"In terms of driving the car I found it relatively easy," says Evans.

"The performance levels of the R5 are far, far higher. The thing that took time was to get the best out of the car."

The 1.6 litre engine started life in a Ford Mondeo before being heavily modified.

Turbo was added and the engine was dropped and put further back in the car to improve weight distribution.

Inside the only recognisable feature from the original is the dashboard.

Evans' sixth place finish is higher than nine times World Rally Champion Sebastian Loeb in his opening WRC race.

He has been compared to Britain's best-known champion rally driver Colin McRae.

Evans began rallying at 16 in a £400 Nissan Micra built in his father's garage. Eight years on and he is behind the wheel of a car worth 400 times that.

Other manufacturers are working on cars to a similar specification, in particular Peugeot and Citroen.

Peugeot's 208 T16 has made an appearance but won't be homologated - the process needed to make a car legal to race - until the end of this year.

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