WRC A FULL 2014
M-SPORT FIND THEIR FEET IN POLAND
27 June 2014
M-Sport World Rally Team’s Mikko Hirvonen and Elfyn Evans had a somewhat shaky start to their Rally Poland campaign, but the pairing soon found their feet and are beginning to climb the leader board as a result. Hirvonen currently holds seventh place with Evans ninth.
Hirvonen and co-driver Jarmo Lehtinen may have been victorious at the event’s 2009 edition, but the Finns struggled to settle into a good rhythm over yesterday’s opening speed tests. Their woes continued into the second day as the M-Sport man lacked confidence in his pacenotes which he admitted were a scale too slow for the quick-paced roads.
His uncharacteristic misjudgement cost him dearly. At such high speeds any hesitation is detrimental and the Finn was forced to play catch up from the start. But determined as ever, the pairing’s experience shone through and they gained two places through a rutted SS6.
With the second pass of Kapciamiestis-Lithuania and Margionys-Lithuania (SS7 and SS8) cancelled due to deteriorating conditions, the duo had just SS9 and SS10 to regain their confidence. Despite lacking the rhythm his rivals had accumulated throughout the course of the morning, the Finn was happier with his performance albeit resolute on making further gains tomorrow.
In the sister M-Sport Fiesta RS WRC, Evans continued his development on what is the fastest event of his career. Contesting such high-speed stages for the first time the sheer speed came as an understandable surprise but he quickly found his feet with some encouraging progression to boot.
Having struggled to find their rhythm on yesterday’s opening stages Evans and co-driver Daniel Barritt looked much more controlled today. Delivering some promising stage times over the course of the morning, the pairing continued their progression into the afternoon – reducing the seconds per kilometre ratio and producing some highly competitive split times.
Mikko Hirvonen (7th) said:
“We were able to improve the pacenotes for this afternoon’s stage [SS9] and in places it was a lot better but I still lost too much time for my liking. There was one corner where I needed to slow down because of the dust and only two or three where I could have been faster so it was a bit strange.
“That’s how it is at the moment and we’re going to go through all of our onboard videos tonight to see if there is anything we can do for tomorrow.”
Elfyn Evans (9th) said:
“Today has been a lot better than yesterday. It’s been getting better and better all day and we’ve set some very encouraging split times which I’m pretty pleased with to be honest. I’m still lacking when it comes to putting a complete stage together so we’re going to work on that tomorrow and hopefully keep improving.”
Team Principal, Malcolm Wilson OBE, said:
“It’s very uncharacteristic for Mikko [Hirvonen] to make a mistake during recce. The pacenote system which he has developed with Jarmo [Lehtinen, co-driver] is one of his key strengths, but if you misjudge the speed here then you are inevitably going to lose time. He knows his mistake and he’ll spend some time going through all of the onboard videos tonight to alter the notes as much as he can. If he can do that, he should be on course to score some solid points.
“Elfyn [Evans] has had a much better day today and I think a lot of that was down to him relaxing and just enjoying the stages. To have your debut at an event as fast as this behind the wheel of a world rally car is no easy feat and he’s held his own. He’s set some solid times and some very impressive individuals splits; and he knows that the next step is to tie that all together over course of a full stage.”
HOME SUPPORT BOOSTS KUBICA
RK M-Sport World Rally Team’s Robert Kubica is reaping the benefits of home support this weekend. Despite an unfortunate roll on the opening day of competition, the Pole has shown some promising and consistent pace which sees him placed eighth overall.
Robert started Rally Poland in excellent fashion with a third fastest time through the opening speed test, but rolled his Ford Fiesta RS WRC under braking on SS2. Fortunately, his loyal supporters were on hand to right his stricken Fiesta and, impressively, the Pole lost just 25 seconds as a result. Undeterred by the incident, he lost none of his speed en route to the stage end and was able to match the time of World Champion Sebastien Ogier through the final split.
Unfazed by his SS2 mishap, the Formula One race winner embarked on today’s stages with the same confidence – posting another top-three time through the morning’s opening stage (SS4).
As the conditions worsened with huge ruts forming for the later runners, Robert and co-driver Maciek Szczepaniak controlled their speed to ensure they gained maximum experience in what were some extremely challenging conditions.
The second pass of Kapciamiestis-Lithuania and Margionys-Lithuania (SS7 and SS8) were cancelled due to the deteriorating conditions but as Robert tackled the remaining two stages he was on form once again – posting the third fastest time on the closing Super Special Stage (SS10).
Adopting a clever approach, the Pole pushed when he felt comfortable and erred on the side of caution when the conditions became more challenging. This effective mix of speed and composure sees him gain further knowledge and experience whilst developing his pace at the sport’s highest league.
Robert Kubica (8th) said:
“It’s been a long day without so much driving, but I’m pleased with what we have done today and I think the driving has been good. The stages in Lithuania were getting worse and worse the further down the order you were so it was not easy, but we managed it well.
“I’m sure there will be even more people out on the stages tomorrow so I hope it will be a good day for us that the spectators can enjoy. It’s a longer day with five different stages. A lot can happen, but hopefully we can do them well and continue as we have today.”
Team Principal, Malcolm Wilson OBE, said:
“It’s been another encouraging day for Robert [Kubica]. He’s set some very strong times when he felt comfortable, and been sensible when the conditions became more challenging.
“Were it not for yesterday’s mistake he would have been much further up the order, but he remains on course for another strong result on gravel and should be pleased with the job he has done behind the wheel.”
AFTER DAY TWO OF RALLY POLAND
RESULTS AFTER SS10
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