WRC A FULL 2016
SUN, SAND AND SPEED, M-SPORT SEEK SUCCESS IN SARDINIA.
M-Sport World Rally Team’s Mads Østberg and Éric Camilli will be looking to take a step forward when the FIA World Rally Championship returns to the Mediterranean for this week’s Rally Italia Sardegna.
6 June, 2016
The island setting makes for ideal rally territory, but the Ecoboost-powered Ford Fiesta RS WRC drivers will have to have their wits about them as they traverse what is one of the season’s most arduous and abrasive routes.
The gravel stages can be exceptionally fast but also hide a multitude of obstacles. Littered with bushes, trees and rocks, the narrow tracks leave no room for error and even the smallest of mistakes can be heavily punished.
Road position can also play a big part in the outcome of the rally as the hard-based roads must be swept of their sandy covering by the leading cars. That’s bad news for Østberg and co-driver Ola Fløene who have become victims of their own success of late.
Having produced a highly consistent start to their season, the Norwegians find themselves high in the championship standings which comes hand-in-hand with an early running order.
Since returning to gravel, Østberg has also struggled for confidence whilst down-shifting in an absence of grip, but the team have not been resting on their laurels and implemented some further solutions during the pre-event test.
It’s hoped that these findings will return the combination of Østberg and the Fiesta to the top of the timesheets but the Norwegian had another event to contest before the updates could be tested in competition.
Back behind the wheel of the Ford Fiesta R5 Evo, he stormed to victory on the fifth round of the Norwegian Rally Championship at last weekend’s Aurskog-Høland Rally; and he’ll be looking to carry that momentum forward to Sardinia.
In the sister M-Sport Fiesta RS WRC, Camilli and co-driver Benjamin Veillas produced a break-through performance at last month’s Rally de Portugal.
Improving all aspects of what it takes to compete at rallying’s highest league, the Frenchmen have enhanced everything from their pacenote system, to better understanding the set-up of their Fiesta RS WRC and will be looking to make further progress next week.
Having contested the Italian fixture as part of their WRC 2 campaign last year, the pairing have some knowledge of the event and held a strong podium position before being side-lined with a technical issue.
Keen to progress further, Camilli will be aiming for another strong result and is capable of springing another surprise or two this week.
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Mads Østberg said:
“We’re getting into the main part of the season now and we all want to deliver more speed in the events to come. Since Portugal, we’ve not been standing still. We’ve had a lot of discussions internally and we tried some new things during the pre-event test which were quite promising so we’ll be hoping to build on those findings this week.
“Sardinia always provides a really tricky event. It’s a tough rally and you have to be extremely focused as even the smallest of mistakes can have heavy penalties. We’ll also be expecting some cleaning which isn’t great for us as the third car on the road, but we will give it our all as always.
“We’re all hoping to take a step forward and I’ve done well at this event in the past. We’re looking for a strong result and, if everything goes to plan, I believe that is possible.”
Éric Camilli said:
“After showing some good progress in Portugal, we want to continue that progression in Sardinia. I have some knowledge of this rally as it was part of my WRC 2 programme last year. We set some good times and we’re feeling well prepared so hopefully it can be another positive event for us.
“The stages are very narrow and also quite fast in places so it will be interesting to discover the level of the WRC on roads like that. There are so many factors to consider and so many new things to learn but we’re looking forward to the challenges and to discovering the stages with the Fiesta RS WRC.
“Stages such as Monte Lerno require a lot of experience, so we know that we are not ready to challenge for the top results just yet. We need to keep learning and keep developing our skills at this level and that will be our target for the weekend.”
Team Principal, Malcolm Wilson OBE, said:
“This is no easy rally and we’ve seen some shock results here in the past. Éric has shown some very impressive progress over the last couple of events and, if he continues this level of development, he could well spring another surprise. Needless to say we are very happy with the way he and Benjamin are progressing. They’re learning all the time and we fully expect them to continue that in Sardinia.
“Mads has become a victim of his own success of late. After such a consistent start to the season he has an excellent championship position but that comes hand in hand with an early position in the running order – something that will pose another disadvantage to him this week.
“It’s also no secret that he’s been struggling for confidence with the down shifts when the grip levels are low. We’ve been working to find a solution and the findings on our recent pre-event test proved promising. We continued developing these findings over the remainder of the test and hopefully that will help Mads in Sardinia.”
Anna Louise Rudd
Media M-Sport WRT
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