M-Sport Ford World Rally Team’s three EcoBoost-powered Ford Fiesta WRCs may not have had the pace to challenge for the podium at this weekend’s Neste Rally Finland, but the Cumbrian squad did achieve their primary goal of reducing the deficit to their main rivals in all three FIA World Rally Championships.
Team Principal, Malcolm Wilson OBE, said:
“We’ve not had the speed we wanted this weekend, but we have achieved our main objective and reduced the gap in all three championships. It’s frustrating not to have been in the fight at the front, but we have to keep the bigger picture in mind and it’s been a positive event in that respect.
“Heading back to asphalt at Rallye Deutschland the goal will be to see the gaps further reduced. The Fiesta won the event last year and Sébastien won last time out on asphalt, so let’s see what we can do in three weeks’ time.”
OGIER AND INGRASSIA FIFTH AT RALLY FINLAND
Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia may have been hoping to challenge higher up the leader board at this weekend’s Rally Finland, but it was still mission accomplished for the five-time World Champions as they took vital points away from their main rivals.
Having arrived in Finland with a 27-point deficit in the driver and co-driver standings, fifth place was enough to see the Frenchmen reduce the gap by six points. Five events remain with 150 points on offer – and the team will be ready to give it their best at Rallye Deutschland.
Sébastien Ogier (5th) said:
“For sure it was a difficult weekend for us and we expected to be a lot more competitive. The Fiesta performed really well here last year and every driver was able to set fastest times. That wasn’t the case this year and it was a bit of a bad surprise.
“We tried all we could, but there wasn’t a lot more we could do. That’s how it is and we just have to try and analyse why we were not able to keep up the pace this weekend. The positive is that we scored more points than Thierry [Neuville] – and that is anyways always our main target.”
SUNINEN AND MARKKULA SIXTH AT RALLY FINLAND
Teemu Suninen and Mikko Markkula had been hoping to challenge for a podium at this weekend’s Rally Finland, but ultimately had to settle for sixth place.
During the early stages, it looked as though the Finns would be in with a chance of a top-three finish – running as high as third overall and entertaining fans with a McRae-style save from the ditches of Äänekoski (SS5).
But as the event wore on, rutted conditions and a lack of confidence behind the wheel saw the pairing fall adrift of the fight at the front.
Improving throughout Saturday afternoon, Suninen had the better of his team mates and moved up to what would have been a net fifth place.
Proving himself a true team player, he then moved aside and took a 20 second penalty to give team mate Ogier two additional points for his championship defence.