FIA WORLD RALLY CHAMPIONSHIP (WRC 2015): WALES RALLY GB – M-SPORT WORLD RALLY TEAM – M-SPORT LOOK TO PUSH ON HOME SOIL
WRC A FULL 2015
M-SPORT LOOK TO PUSH ON HOME SOIL.
M-Sport World Rally Team’s Elfyn Evans and Ott Tänak will be pushing to close the 2015 FIA World Rally Championship with a strong result at next week’s Wales Rally GB.
6 November 2015
The season finale provides one of the most iconic events of the year and the Welsh stages are revered by drivers and spectators alike. Fast and flowing with a surprisingly high level of traction, it’s easy to see what makes these speed tests a firm favourite.
The stages might not be the most technical on the calendar, but it’s the conditions that make M-Sport’s home rally one of the most uniquely challenging events of the year. Unpredictable weather can bring sun, rain, fog, ice and even snow. Visibility can also often be an issue, but there is one thing that’s always guaranteed – mud, and plenty of it!
Those who want to challenge for the top positions require an ability to read the muddy roads – to know where to push and where the Welsh forests threaten to bite back. M-Sport’s young squad have that knowledge and they’ll be looking to use it to their advantage next week.
Evans grew up on these stages and the Gartheinog test runs just five miles from his home. At his side, co-driver Daniel Barritt has more than a decade’s worth of experience in Wales and the pairing will be looking to use that knowledge to the best of their ability.
The Welshman has already proven how strong he can be on home soil. At eighteen years old, he made his WRC debut at the 2007 encounter – storming to a dominant class victory behind the wheel of a Ford Fiesta ST. He later went on to win the WRC 2 category in 2013 before closing his debut world rally car season with a superb top-five finish last year.
Evans has been a man in demand during the lead-up to his home event with a number of TV, print and radio appearances in both Wales and the wider UK. Strengthening his Welsh links, Evans has also encouraged local school children to create a Welsh-themed roof vent design for his Ford Fiesta RS WRC.
Tänak is also well versed and can boast more world rally car experience in Wales than any other event. His first appearance saw him claim the P-WRC victory in 2010, but his next three appearances all came behind the wheel of a Fiesta RS WRC.
The Estonian made his debut with the top-specification Fiesta at Wales Rally GB – securing an impressive sixth place finish in 2011 which hinted at the formidable pace he could deliver on gravel.
This year, Tänak has made good on that promise. He and co-driver Raigo Mõlder have been one of few crews able to lead an event on gravel and they’ll be looking to prove that again next week.
In the lead-up to their home event, M-Sport has conducted an extensive pre-event test. Evans and Tänak shared three days at M-Sport’s private testing facility in Greystoke, Cumbria before heading to North Wales for a further three days alongside Lorenzo Bertelli.
Having covered 984 kilometres over a six day period, the team are feeling prepared and ready for the challenges ahead.
Elfyn Evans said:
“It’s always nice to end the season at home and Wales Rally GB has a fantastic atmosphere. The home crowd really gets behind us and I’m really looking forward to experiencing some of the best stages in the world for the second time with a world rally car.
“We had a good run to fifth place last year and I want to at least equal that this year. The competition will be strong with a lot of drivers all gunning for the podium positions, but if everything is perfect then I think we’re more than capable of challenging for a strong result.
“There really is only one certainty at this event, and that’s the weather. You can pretty much guarantee that it’ll be wet but the grip levels are actually surprisingly high given the conditions. The real difficulty is when visibility becomes an issue.
“Regardless of what we face next week, I’m really looking forward to it. The organisers have put some classic driver stages on the itinerary – fast, flowing stages that allow you to get into a really good rhythm. I can’t wait to go rallying at home.”
Ott Tänak said:
“We are ready to have a good event in Wales. The last three times I have been there have been with the Ford Fiesta RS WRC so our experience is strong. We’ve been able to confirm the notes at high-speed and, in this sport, experience really does count for a lot.
“The Welsh event is always a challenge, no matter what the weather, but I really enjoy it. The stages are all quite fast and smooth. They can get quite slippery when they become polished over the second pass, but they’re still really flowing which I like.
“We know what’s coming and we’re ready for it. I want to push as we have on the last few gravel events – to do our maximum and prove what we are capable of. The competition will be tough, but I know that we can be competitive on gravel and I want to end the season by continuing to improve and by doing the best job we possibly can.”
Team Principal, Malcolm Wilson OBE, said:
“Wales Rally GB never fails to excite and as our home event we’re particularly motivated to secure a strong result. Both Elfyn and Ott have a lot of experience of these stages and we know that the Ford Fiesta RS WRC is a competitive package on gravel. The competition will be tough, but we’re keen to bring our season to a close with a strong result.”
M-Sport will also run the Ford Fiesta RRCs of Yurii Protasov and Abdulaziz Al-Kuwari as they bring their respective WRC 2 campaigns to a close.
Protasov currently holds second place in the standings with Al-Kuwari fifth. Once drop scores are taken into account, both drivers are in a close fight for the series’ runner-up spot.
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