WRC A FULL 2016
FIESTA FLIES IN FINLAND.
M-Sport’s Ecoboost-powered Ford Fiesta RS WRC was on the pace once again today – challenging for the lead of Neste Rally Finland on the opening day of competition.
29 July 2016
In the hands of Ott Tänak and Raigo Mõlder, the Fiesta was locked in an intense battle for the lead. Having pulled away from the chasing pack, the Estonians were just 0.7 seconds shy of the lead when fate was to deal another cruel hand to the M-Sport team.
Suffering a broken suspension on the first pass of Surkee (SS4), Tänak dropped more than 50 seconds to leader Kris Meeke and was relegated to 10th place overall. And as his bad luck continued, he picked up a front-right puncture on the second pass of Surkee (SS11) which cost him a further 25 seconds.
Despite the misfortune, the Estonian has once again proven the performance of the Fiesta. Racking up four stage victories over the course of the day, Tänak also secured seven top-three times to climb to eighth overall and demonstrate the rally-winning potential of the Fiesta.
In the M-Sport World Rally Team, Mads Østberg was enjoying the adrenaline-fuelled drive through the Finnish forests. Having contested the event on 10 previous occasions, the Norwegian soon discovered that a flat-out approach was the optimum way forward.
Showing an improvement from last time out in Poland, he and co-driver Ola Fløene were closer to the leaders and find themselves just 17.5 seconds shy of the podium positions with two days of competition left to contest.
Currently holding seventh place overall, the Norwegians have all to play and the consistency to close on the top positions as the event continues.
In the sister M-Sport Fiesta RS WRC, Éric Camilli and Benjamin Veillas continued to prove the level of their fast-track progression. Quickly getting to grips with the speed of their Fiesta on Finland’s legendary roads, they regularly had the measure of their more experienced rivals.
On the new stages, they showcased that progression perfectly – setting a time just 0.1 seconds adrift of rally leader Kris Meeke and 0.8 seconds shy of World Champion Sebastien Ogier through Äänekoski-Valtra (SS7).
With much of tomorrow’s route differing from last year’s edition, the Frenchmen will be keen to show the same level of progression as they continue to learn the art of top-flight rallying in Finland.
In the WRC 2 category, Elfyn Evans and Craig Parry were running in a strong second place before suffering a power failure that affected the power steering on SS10.
Driving well, the pairing had the better of the majority of the field. Analysing all of the data, they had identified potential gains and were keen to take the fight to local hero Esapekka Lappi.
Dropping to an undeserving sixth place, the Welshman will be motivated to showcase his speed when the action resumes tomorrow.
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Mads Østberg (7th) said:
“it’s been a really fun day today – as offices go you don’t get much better than this! We’ve had some good sections of stages, and some not so good, but that’s okay. We’re still within touching distance of the podium, and anything can happen with two days of challenging stages still to come. We’ll keep pushing.”
Éric Camilli (9th) said:
“It’s been a great day for us. Rally Finland is such a special event and it’s never easy for a Frenchman to go fast here, especially when they are driving a world rally car for the first time!
“We’re so happy to have set some competitive times today. I know that we have a lot more to learn before we can be consistently setting top times on these stages, but it was fantastic to challenge the guys with much more experience at times.
“The car has felt fantastic and the team have been working really hard. The aim will be to continue learning and progressing tomorrow.”
Elfyn Evans (6th WRC 2) said:
“We came here with the intention of challenging for the win so this afternoon was obviously really disappointing. I think that we showed some good speed today, but these things happen. It’s disappointing for everyone as we were on course to challenge for another really strong result.”
Team Principal, Malcolm Wilson OBE, said:
“It’s been a day of highs and lows for the team. Once again, Ott has proven the rally-winning potential of the Fiesta RS WRC. Unfortunately, a series of misfortunes has prevented him from translating that speed into a leading performance; something he was certainly capable of.
“Mads has shown some improvement since Poland and he’s a lot closer to the leading pack. Knowing how competitive he is, he won’t be happy with seventh place but he’s just a handful of seconds away from the podium and has the consistency to make further gains as the rally continues.
“Eric has been finding his feet today and he set some very encouraging times on the new stages where experience counted for less. This was his first time with a world rally car in Finland, so to be just 0.1 slower than Meeke and within a second of both Ogier and Latvala on SS7 was very impressive.
“Elfyn was doing a solid job, having the better of the majority of the field and running in a strong second place. He was really motivated to take the fight to Lappi tomorrow so it’s a real shame that he had the problems. Now though, he can throw caution to the wind and just go for it tomorrow.”
RESULTS AFTER SS12
Anna Louise Rudd
Media M-Sport WRT
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