WRC A FULL 2016
DOMINANT FIESTA MISSES OUT ON POLAND WIN.
M-Sport’s Ecoboost-powered Ford Fiesta RS WRC was a cut above the rest this weekend – Ott Tänak and Raigo Mõlder winning eight stages and holding the Rally Poland lead up until the penultimate stage when fate was to take a cruel and heart-breaking turn.
3 July 2016
On course to secure their first FIA World Rally Championship victory and M-Sport’s first win since the 2012 edition of Wales Rally GB, the Estonians picked up a front-right puncture half way through the second pass of Baranowo (SS20) – costing them more than half a minute, and with it, a desperately deserved win.
Despite the disappointment that was felt throughout the whole M-Sport team, Tänak’s performance was nothing short of sensational and has proven that the Fiesta RS WRC has the power and performance not only to fight for rally victories, but to win rallies.
In the M-Sport World Rally Team, Mads Østberg and Eric Camilli progressed through the ultra-fast stages to finish in eighth and tenth places respectively.
On their first encounter with the Polish roads, Camilli and co-driver Benjamin Veillas were under strict instruction to complete all of the stages. On what is only the 13th gravel rally of his fledgling career, the Frenchman has never experienced anything like this event but more than held his own through the demanding route.
Learning the speed and commitment required to perform on these unique speed tests, he had the better of his vastly more experienced team mate through much of the competition until he also fell foul of the penultimate stage.
Sliding wide and clipping a tree stump after the flying finish, Camilli damaged his Fiesta’s rear suspension and was forced to crawl through the final test with two-wheel-drive only.
The incident cost him eighth place to his team mate, but having gained a wealth of knowledge and experience, he and Veillas will be looking forward to Rally Finland at the end of the month – an event on which they have previous experience.
In the sister M-Sport Fiesta RS WRC, Østberg was unable to show the same stage-winning pace as he had in Sardinia, but remained pleased with his driving and the adrenaline rush every competitor experiences in Poland.
Lose time at this event and the high-speed stages make it extremely difficult to claw anything back. But despite being unable to challenge for the top positions this weekend, the Norwegian isn’t one to give up.
Working with their engineer, he and co-driver Ola Fløene have been looking at all of the data and onboard videos to understand where they are losing out. Keen to make amends in Finland, they’ll be determined for a repeat of 2013 when Østberg piloted his Fiesta RS WRC to the third step of the podium.
Elsewhere in the WRC 2 category, Elfyn Evans and Craig Parry set a stunning time through the first pass of Baranowo (SS19) – 8.7 seconds quicker than Esapekka Lappi and 16.2 seconds up on Teemu Suninen.
Feeling confident behind the wheel of his Ford Fiesta R5 Evo, Evans was on a mission and determined to reel in his rivals. Unfortunately, the penultimate stage bit back at M-Sport once again.
Picking up a picture, the Welshman lost 46 seconds to the leaders and was forced to accept second place. Despite being denied the chance of challenging for the victory, Evans has racked up two podium finishes in as many weeks and continues to lead the WRC 2 standings.
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Mads Østberg (8th) said:
“It’s been an enjoyable weekend, but we didn’t come here for eighth place. The stages are fantastic and I really enjoyed the driving but for some reason we weren’t able to show the same pace as in Sardinia.
“We never give up and we will work hard to come back stronger in Finland. We’ve been analysing everything to try and understand where the time loss is coming from and we’ll continue to do that as we want to be challenging for the podium positions.”
Éric Camilli (10th) said:
“I really feel for the whole team this weekend. They deserved this victory and I know that it will come sooner rather than later.
“For me, it has been a good weekend and we have learnt an incredible amount. This was my first time on roads like this so it was a real pleasure to have been battling with Mads and Dani [Sordo] who have so much more experience.
“We know where we need to improve to take full performance from these fast roads and we’ll continue to work on that in Finland. I competed on that event last year so I have some knowledge and I’m really looking forward to it.”
Elfyn Evans (2nd WRC 2) said:
“If I had been offered second place earlier in the week, I would have taken it, but I half feel that a win should have been on the cards. Second is better than nothing on a weekend like this and we are still leading the championship which is really important. We’ll just have to work harder and stronger to be on the top step in Finland.”
Team Principal, Malcolm Wilson OBE, said:
“To be so close, you can understand how disappointed the whole team are. But this is rallying, and we have to accept it. Ott and Raigo were absolutely fantastic this weekend and they deserved to be on the top step of the podium. They missed out this weekend, but they know they can do it and they will bounce back. Ott is a future rally winner, and he has proven that the Fiesta is a rally winner.
“This was a brand new challenge for Eric and Ben and they certainly held their own. They did exactly what was asked of them and up until their incident on the penultimate speed test, they had the better of both Mads and Dani [Sordo]. They’ve learnt a lot and the experience that they have gained this weekend will stand them in good stead for the years to come.
“Mads was hoping to be closer to the top guys, but these roads are so fast that once you lose time it is so hard to make it back. He’s determined to improve in Finland and he’s been working with his engineer to understand where he can make up some time. Hopefully, in Finland, he can repeat the performance he had with us in 2013.
“Elfyn wanted the victory this weekend, but it wasn’t to be. He set a stunning time through the first stage of the day and was determined to give it a shot. Unfortunately, he picked up a puncture on the penultimate stage. He leaves here in the lead of the championship and he’ll be hungry to build on that in Finland.”
RESULTS AFTER RALLY POLAND*
Anna Louise Rudd
Media M-Sport WRT
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Rally Report Magazine Argentina
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