WALES, Great Britain - All of the M-Sport Ford World Rally Team crews proved that they had the speed to challenge for the top positions at Wales Rally GB today. Unfortunately, the speed of the EcoBoost-powered Ford Fiesta WRC went unrewarded.
Team Principal, Malcolm Wilson OBE, said:
“What a difference twelve months makes! It’s been a really frustrating day for the team as we had the pace to deliver a lot more.
“Elfyn in particular was on course for another great result and he and Dan looked like the only crew capable of pushing Ott and Martin for the win.
“We’re still not 100 percent sure what happened, but the car developed a misfire on the road section. They tried a few things to fix it, but it didn’t go to plan and we ran out of time and had no option but to retire.
“It’s typical of the way his season has gone and a real shame for all the Welsh fans who came out to support him and the team this weekend.
“Teemu too was doing a really good job – setting some strong times on what is his first time here in a world rally car.
“But he had a very hard impact on the last stage – damaging the suspension and going off the road. The car isn’t back yet, but it remains to be seen if he will be back out again tomorrow.
“Sébastien and Julien finished the day in fifth place – but it wasn’t without its dramas either!
“Losing first and second gear this morning, they have been on the back foot but they’re still in the fight. There’s still a long way to go and anything can happen – we won’t give up and if anyone can do it Sébastien can.”
Despite a tough day in the Welsh forests, Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia remain in the fight for the podium positions. The French pairing were running in third place before a transmission issue saw them lose first and second gear through the first pass of Penmachno (SS4). Making it back to service, the M-Sport mechanics affected a repair and Ogier finished the day in fifth place – intent on climbing the classification through tomorrow’s fast-paced speed tests.
Sébastien Ogier (5th) said:
“It’s difficult to be positive tonight and unfortunately we can’t change what happened. I pushed really hard this afternoon, but the times just weren’t good enough. There is no point for us to finish in fourth or fifth position, so we need to take full risk tomorrow. It’s definitely not the start to the rally we wanted to have, but there’s still a long way to go.”
Elfyn Evans and Daniel Barritt had been in the fight for a second successive victory on home soil – sitting in second place and never more than a handful of seconds adrift of the lead. But hopes of another Welsh win were dashed on the road section to the afternoon stages. Developing a misfire, the British pairing went over time in an attempt to repair the issue and were forced to retire for the day.
“We had a good morning, the feeling was really good in the car, however on leaving service we found there was a slight misfire which unfortunately developed into something more terminal on the road section to Special Stage 7. As a result we had to retire from the day – but the team can fix it and we will be back out to fight again tomorrow”.
Teemu Suninen and Mikko Markkula were in the fight for the top positions at this weekend’s Wales Rally GB. The Finnish pairing showed their intent with the fastest time through yesterday’s Shakedown, and were running in podium position mid-afternoon. But a spin on SS8 was followed by a broken suspension on SS9 and the pairing were forced to retire as the car was found to have roll-cage damage that could not be repaired in the time available.
“Today started pretty good, we were in a good place and then on the last stage I cut a corner a bit too much and hit a tree stump. On the next left hand corner the suspension broke and we crashed the car. It was my mistake. It was a shame as I really enjoyed driving this car on a good pace, especially when we were fighting for a podium but unfortunately it didn’t end up like this and we will have to go back and try again next year.”
1. Ott Tänak / Martin Järveoja (Toyota Yaris WRC) 1:06:04.3
2. Thierry Neuville / Nicolas Gilsoul (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC) +28.8
3. Jari-Matti Latvala / Miikka Anttila (Toyota Yaris WRC) +31.3
4. Esapekka Lappi / Janne Ferm (Toyota Yaris WRC) +35.9
5. Sébastien Ogier / Julien Ingrassia (Ford Fiesta WRC) +38.2
6. Craig Breen / Scott Martin (Citroen C3 WRC) +48.8
7. Mads Østberg / Torstein Eriksen (Citroen C3 WRC) +1:06.4
8. Hayden Paddon / Sebastian Marshal (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC) +1:08.4
9. Andreas Mikkelsen / Anders Jaeger (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC) +1:24.3