Having joined the Cumbrian squad in 2000, Miguel Cunha has been an integral part of the team for the past 17 years.

Since playing a part in the team’s consecutive manufacturer titles in 2006 and 2007, Cunha has progressed through the ranks and is currently employed as the Chief Technician to Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia.

In the lead up to Rally Sweden – one of the most challenging events for our technicians – we caught up with Portugal’s honorary Cumbrian.

How long have you been with M-Sport and what made you join the team?

I’ve always been quite a determined and ambitious person. Back in 2000 I wanted a new challenge, so I moved from my home in Portugal to work at M-Sport in the north of England.

At the time, I don’t think I realised how much of a challenge it was going to be. I didn’t speak any English, and that was definitely the hardest part – I had to learn very quickly.

I was quite home sick at times and, if I’m honest, there were a few times when I thought about going home. But that’s not me; that’s not what I’m about. I didn’t give up and I’m so happy about that. I love my job and now I live in Cockermouth with my wife and my two young sons.

What would you consider your greatest achievement and fondest memory as part of the team?

That is an easy one – winning the manufacturers’ title for the first time in 2006. We were in New Zealand and it was an amazing feeling. The whole team really came together, and we knew that we were the best – we had done it, we had won the championship. There was a pretty big party that night!

What does your job entail?

My role on events is to look after Sébastien Ogier’s Fiesta. I’m the chief technician and it’s my job to ensure that everything is running as it should. I have a team of technicians working alongside me and we work together to get the job done.

I work closely with the engineer to ensure everything that needs doing is done. It could be anything from a small set-up change, to replacing a full corner. No service is ever the same and you have to be organised and have a good structure in place to master any challenge.

In the workshop, it’s a little bit different as I head up the builds and rebuilds of all the latest world rally cars. Last year I didn’t travel to events – I stayed with the test team and learnt everything there is to know about these new cars.

It’s a big job, but when you have a result like the one in Monte-Carlo last month, it’s also a very rewarding one.

What is it like to work with the four-time World Champion?

In many ways he’s just a normal guy, but in other ways you can see exactly why he’s as good as he is. Sébastien and Julien are both really nice guys and straight away you could see the respect that they have for the team.

But there’s a reason why they have won four world championships, and I think that’s down to their attention to detail. In that respect, they remind me a lot Carlos Sainz. He was the same. Everything had to be just so, and it’s that level of precision that delivers results.

What makes Rally Sweden so challenging for the technicians?

The cold; we service outside and trust me when I say that it is cold. Rally Sweden might not be known as a car breaker, but it definitely delivers the most challenging services for the technicians.

The simplest of jobs are made that much harder in those temperatures. You lose all feeling in your hands and that is a technician’s worst nightmare!