WRC A FULL 2016
BRIGHT SPELLS FOR M-SPORT IN SPAIN.
M-Sport World Rally Team’s Mads Østberg and Éric Camilli may have been hindered by the worst of the rain as this weekend’s RallyRACC Catalunya – Costa Daurada got underway, but that didn’t stop the bright spells – both posting some encouraging times throughout the afternoon loop.
Rally Spain Day One
With the Ecoboost-powered Ford Fiesta RS WRCs kitted out in gravel trim for the opening day of competition, a later road position would have given an advantage in the dry. But as the heavens opened over the morning stages, that situation was starkly reversed.
As Østberg sat on the start line of the opening speed test, heavy rain battered the stages. Having to adapt to the treacherous conditions time loss was inevitable, but he and compatriot co-driver Ola Fløene did well to limit the damage.
As the skies brightened over the second pass, the conditions became more consistent and the Norwegians showed what they are capable of on the Spanish gravel – posting the third fastest time through “Caseres 2” (SS5).
Also hinting at what they could be capable of on asphalt, the pairing were highly competitive through the Tarmac section on both passes of Terra Alta (SS4 and SS7). This bodes well for tomorrow when the action reconvenes on sealed-surface roads and suggests that Østberg’s new strategy for asphalt driving could well pay dividends.
Currently holding sixth place overall, the Norwegian is just eight seconds shy of equalling his best result of fourth at the Spanish fixture, with two days of fierce competition left to contest.
In the sister M-Sport Fiesta RS WRC, Camilli and co-driver Benjamin Veillas had the worst of the weather but that didn’t dampen their spirits. Making the most of their situation, they took the opportunity to gain knowledge and understanding of conditions they had not yet experienced behind the wheel of a world rally car.
Discovering where the grip can be found and where it was vital to adapt a more cautious approach, the Frenchmen have added more knowledge to their ever-growing armoury and were able to put that into practice through the afternoon stages with a vast improvement in pace.
Lessons learnt Camilli will now be looking for brighter fortunes as the Spanish fixture turns to his preferred surface tomorrow.
To account for the change from gravel to asphalt, M-Sport’s team of technicians have transformed the Fiestas into their ground-hugging Tarmac specification. Changing a number of components including suspension, brakes, gearbox, rear differential, steering rack and cross members, the work was completed in a mere 75 minute service – ready for tomorrow’s asphalt action.
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Mads Østberg (6th) said:
“The stages here in Spain are fantastic and I have really enjoyed the day. Our driving and our performance have been really strong but, unfortunately, luck hasn’t been on our side.
“In the morning that was largely due to the weather but, if I’m honest, we made that back in the afternoon. We also had a small problem with the differentials – a new one – and we have no idea what it is. I’m trying to explain it to the engineers and they can see it on the data, but at this moment we can’t pin-point exactly what’s causing it. Obviously we had a full day without service so we just had to adapt and try to be faster and faster with every stage – which I think we achieved.
“We also had some really strong splits on the Tarmac section of Terra Alta which was great to see. Of course it’s with completely different tyres and set-up, but it’s still Tarmac and it’s still a section in the stage where I’ve always lost out. In the past I’ve lost more than a second per kilometre in there, but this year we were one of the fastest both times though – that makes me especially happy.”
Éric Camilli (10th) said:
“It was very difficult for us in the morning. We were competitive here last year, but in these conditions it was hard to judge the limits. You never know where you can push, where it will be slippery, where there will be grip, where there will be water… and in this car, which has so much more power, it can be very tricky. But we took the time to learn and we were able to show a big improvement this afternoon.
“We’re looking forward to tomorrow, but we’ll keep the same mind-set until the end of the season. Right now, the most important thing for me is to take the experience. We’ve already proved our pace this season, so now it’s time to manage everything else and continue learning so that we can make more progress next year.”
Team Principal, Malcolm Wilson OBE, said:
“We were very unlucky that all of our guys were caught in the heaviest of the rain this morning. You could see the time loss in the splits but sometimes that’s just the way it is. Mads improved his pace throughout the afternoon and was able to set some strong times – and I know that he found his performance through the asphalt section of Terra Alta particularly satisfying.
“I think we all have to understand just how little experience Éric has behind the wheel of a rally car. The conditions that we saw this morning were certainly the worst that I can remember in Spain, and he’s still here. He knows how important it is to gain that vital experience and he’s managed the day well – getting through the difficult conditions and then building his pace throughout the day.”
RESULTS AFTER SS7
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