FIA WORLD RALLY CHAMPIONSHIP (WRC) 2015: M-SPORT WORLD RALLY TEAM- EVANS EQUALS CAREER BEST AS “TITÄNAK” SAILS TO THE FINISH
WRC A FULL 2015
EVANS EQUALS CAREER BEST AS “TITÄNAK” SAILS TO THE FINISH.
This year’s edition of Rally Mexico is an event that the M-Sport World Rally Team will never forget. Elfyn Evans equalled a career-best fourth while the team affected a truly phenomenal repair – getting the now legendary “TiTänak” to the end of the rally after it spent almost 10 hours submerged at the bottom of a reservoir.
9 March 2015
M-Sport’s technicians are renowned for their expertise and never-give-up attitude, and they certainly displayed that this weekend. Recovering Ott Tänak’s Ecoboost-powered Ford Fiesta RS WRC from the water on Friday evening, they had the engine fired-up and running just two and a half hours into their service master-class.
Unfortunately, as the Fiesta sat damp in the overnight park fermé, a faulty sensor prevented the Estonian from making the opening speed test. But the team refused to give up the fight. Embarking on Rally 2.1, they were able to resurrect “TiTänak” – Tänak and co-driver Raigo Mõlder re-joining the rally for today’s final stages.
Incredibly, the Fiesta completed all three stages – including the monster 55.82 kilometres of Guanajuatito (SS19). This astonishing achievement was the result of M-Sport’s strong-willed and supremely talented mechanics, coupled with the strength and reliability of the Ford Fiesta.
This epic team effort did not go without reward. Not only did Tänak get the vital seat time required to start rebuilding his confidence, but the Estonian also collected a manufacturer point for the team’s championship campaign.
The team christened “TiTänak” with a sticker in this morning’s opening service, and the crew wittily praised the work of the team by taking to the podium wearing goggles and a snorkel. Once the car returns to M-Sport, the bonnet will be signed by all who aided this astounding repair and displayed in pride of place at M-Sport HQ.
In the sister M-Sport Fiesta RS WRC, Evans and co-driver Daniel Barritt did exactly what they came here to do. Implementing their intelligent strategy with conscientious precision, the pairing were rewarded by equalling their best ever result in the FIA World Rally Championship.
The Welshman showed true strength of character. Adopting a risk-free strategy amidst the difficult conditions, he also demonstrated his speed potential. Pushing when confident, Evans set the third fastest time through the first pass of El Chocolate (SS4) along with the fastest split at section six.
Thanks to their impressive result, Evans and Barritt have now climbed into fifth place in the drivers’ standings. They’re in the perfect place to progress and will soon be ready to showcase more of their promising speed.
Elfyn Evans (4th) said:
“Overall I am extremely happy with my rally and to come away with a strong fourth place – equalling my best ever result – was a big positive. From a driving satisfaction point of view I think the pace was much better in Sweden and Monte, but we knew we needed a good result here and that is what we did.
“The main objective was to have a solid, mistake-free run and I think we have done that. Other than hitting a few tyres on the super special we didn’t have a single mistake which is something of an achievement here! Of course it was a bit frustrating at times – not being able to push to the maximum when there was a lot more to give – but today especially there was much more to lose than there was to gain.
“Finally I need to say how impressed I was with the team getting “TiTänak” to the end of the rally. I have to be honest, I was one of the people thinking ‘I’m not so sure that car will run again’, but to be fair to them they did an absolutely incredible job. I have a massive amount of respect for each and every one of those boys. They really are the best in the world and they’ve proven that this weekend.”
Ott Tänak (22nd) said:
“The team have done a fantastic job, it is something unreal what they have done. It’s such a great feeling to have been able to carry on today. It was so important for me and Raigo to do that, and we really enjoyed it. Now, we can look to improve in Argentina.
“I am so proud of my team and it is such a privilege to work alongside each and every one of them. It’s a real boost for a driver to know that you have people like that behind you all of the time one hundred percent. I am still amazed at what they managed to do this weekend. It was mega. It was fantastic. It was just incredible. The beers are definitely on me tonight!”
Team Principal, Malcolm Wilson OBE, said:
“After all of the emotions on Friday, we have come to the end of the rally with what is an absolutely incredible result for the entire team
“Elfyn [Evans] and Dan [Barritt, co-driver] secured a great fourth place – equalling their best – and are now in a strong fifth place in the championship. I think it’s fair to say that he was a little frustrated at times because he clearly had a lot more to give, but he kept his head and a mistake-free run on an event like this will only build his confidence going forward.
“As for the work the boys did to get Ott’s [Tänak] car to the end of the rally, in was nothing short of phenomenal. After everything Ott and Raigo [Mõlder, co-driver] went through, it was so important to get them back behind the wheel. It’s the first step in rebuilding their confidence and, incredibly, they even brought a manufacturer point back for the team!
“We truly believe that we have the most talented, dedicated and determined technicians in the sport; and they’ve proved that again this weekend. It’s an absolute pleasure to watch them at work. They’re a true team in every sense of the word and I certainly won’t forget this event for a long time to come.
“In fact, we didn’t change the bonnet after it had been in the water. It’s been the same bonnet on the car all weekend and when we get back to the workshop it’s going to be signed by each and every one of those technicians and displayed in the M-Sport museum.”
Nicolás Fuchs (2nd WRC 2) said:
“This has been a great rally for me. It was amazing fighting with Yurii [Protasov], Nasser [Al-Attiyah] and Jari [Ketomaa] – all rally we were changing positions. This is definitely an event where you have to keep calm and use your head and I think we did that. We made it through all of the stages, and here we are with a fantastic second place.”
Abdulaziz Al-Kuwari (4th WRC 2) said:
“Our target coming here was to finish all of the stages and we managed to do that. Okay, it could have been better – we could have been on the podium – but I was really pleased with my speed. It was not an easy rally. I’ve been away from the WRC for eight months and I have a new co-driver – Marshall [Clarke] – with me for the first time, but our pace get better and better with every stage which was great to see.
“Going into the long stage this morning [SS19] we were very close to Jari [Ketomaa] but we overshot a junction and lost 12 to 15 seconds. At the end of the stage Jari was only about 15 seconds faster than us so that shows how good our pace had been because he is one of the best drivers in the world. I am happy to finish fourth because there were so many talented drivers here this weekend.”
Yurii Protasov (5th WRC 2) said:
“For today, I have to be happy. I think we showed really good pace and the working relationship between myself and Pavlo [Cherepin, co-driver] was very good all weekend. We just made a small mistake yesterday which was disappointing, but we need to look at the positives and I think there were a lot of them this weekend.”
THE MAKING OF “TITÄNAK”…
When Ott Tänak’s Ecoboost-powered Ford Fiesta RS WRC left the road and became submerged at the bottom of a reservoir, no one thought it could be salvaged, but the M-Sport World Rally Team proved them wrong.
Affecting one of the greatest repairs in the history of the sport, “TiTänak” made it to the end of the rally with a championship point in tow.
This is the story of how the events of this weekend’s Rally Mexico became legend, and how M-Sport’s immensely talented and dedicated team of technicians and engineers became the true heroes of the FIA World Rally Championship.
THE INITIAL INCIDENT
FRIDAY 6TH MARCH
09:24 – The number six Ford Fiesta RS WRC left the road 2.6 kilometres into SS3 and became submerged at the bottom of a five metre deep reservoir.
09:30 – When the following car cleared the stage, it became evident that there had been a serious problem and the team contacted all relevant organisations to discover what had happened as quickly as possible.
09:38 – The stage was stopped and the Rapid Intervention Vehicle was sent in, confirming that both driver and co-driver were okay with no serious injuries.
10:17 – The crew arrived back at the service park having been flown in by helicopter. They were then taken back to the hotel and given a full check by the team doctor. Raigo also started the lengthy process of drying his pacenotes, page by page.
12:09 – The crew came back to service to complete media interviews and the team sent the mechanics out to supervise the recovery of the Fiesta.
16:30 – The stage was closed and the recovery vehicles were permitted to enter.
16:45 – The organisers sent the first divers down to locate the car – it was no longer on its wheels.
17:45 – The Fiesta emerged from the watery depths and was pulled up onto the embankment.
18:00 – The car was loaded onto the recovery truck and Raigo Mõlder’s mobile phone was retrieved from the car, still working!
20:15 – The Fiesta returned to the service park and the team immediately started assessing the damage.
THE MEGA SERVICE
FRIDAY 6TH MARCH
21:30 – Work began with a three hour Rally 2 giving a deadline for finishing the repair at 00:30.
21:55 – Twenty-five minutes into the three hour service, the technicians had stripped the car practically down to its shell – removing the windscreen, wings, bumpers, drivers’ door, full rear suspension, full front suspension, gearbox, turbo and full cooling package.
22:00 – Work was temporarily halted as regulations only allow one mechanic to work on the fuel system during the service. Following the fuel tank inspection it was decided to replace it.
22:03 – With the workforce back up to full numbers, the tank was removed as well as all of the interior: seats, electronics, radios and dashboard.
22:15 – The technicians started removing the standing water from inside the cockpit.
22:25 – The team produced an expert fix on a damaged engine block, and drained the engine of excess water.
22:30 – With two hours to go, they started reassembling the car. Every part which had been taken from the Fiesta RS WRC was replaced as new – everything except the seats, belts, bonnet and toolkit.
23:00 – With one hour to go, the technicians cranked the engine for oil pressure.
00:05 – With 25 minutes to go she roared back to life.
00:10 – For the final 20 minutes, the team fitted the bonnet, ran through the gears and even had time to give the car a polish – the number six Fiesta RS WRC leaving service well within time. Tänak and Mõlder delivered the car to parc fermé. The entire job was completed within the maximum three hour time limit.
THE SECOND SERVICE
SATURDAY 7TH MARCH
08:30 – Tänak and Mõlder went to collect the Fiesta RS WRC from parc fermé, only to discover that it kept cutting out – the result of being stood overnight.
08:31 – The team’s quick thinking meant that as soon as the crew had pushed the car out of the holding area, a technician was waiting with a recce car to tow it back to service.
08:32 – The car was pushed into its service bay to the applause of the other manufacturer teams.
08:33 – The technicians adjusted the Fiesta’s geometry, changed the spark plugs, changed the electronic coils (twice) and managed to bring the Fiesta back to life.
08:49 – Tänak drove the car out of service and into refuel. Unfortunately, she came to a halt shortly after the refuel zone.
09:25 – Tänak and Mõlder were able to get the Fiesta up and running again, but the time allocated to get them to the start of the first stage has elapsed.
SATURDAY 7TH MARCH
10:28 – The crew drove the car back to service, where she was left to bathe in the Mexican sun – drying all of the components ready for Rally 2.1.
15:10 – Rally 2.1 began with another three hour deadline. The technicians changed all of the fuel pressure sensors as well as the full engine loom. They also changed the oil and further adjusted the geometry.
16:25 – The engine was restarted and the engine engineer checked the data. Following this, it was decided to change the ECU as a precaution.
17:12 – Following a few start-ups to ensure there were no recurring issues, the number six Fiesta RS WRC was driven into parc fermé – ready to fight another day.
– ENDS –
AFTER RALLY MEXICO
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