M-Sport are on course to secure their goal of a podium finish at this weekend’s Kennard’s Hire Rally Australia – Ott Tänak’s EcoBoost-powered Ford Fiesta WRC currently holding third place overall.
With Sébastien Ogier climbing to sixth, and Elfyn Evans up to eighth, the team have made good progress up the leader board and will be keen to close the season with another strong result tomorrow.
Team Principal, Malcolm Wilson OBE, said:
“With Ott and Martin climbing into third place we’re on course to secure our goal for the weekend. We knew that we would face a challenging rally here, so if we could come away with a podium it would be a great end to a fantastic season.
“There are still some challenging stages to come and we can’t afford to lose focus. Twenty seconds is generally considered to be a fairly safe gap, but if the weather comes into play it could really mix things up – and there’s the potential for anything to happen tomorrow.”
TÄNAK AND JÄRVEOJA
Discovering a better feeling through the second day of competition, Ott Tänak and Martin Järveoja have climbed into podium position at Rally Australia.
Setting a string of competitive stage times, the Estonians quickly climbed the leader board to hold a 24.6 second advantage over Craig Breen in fourth place.
With 64.64 challenging kilometres left to contest, Tänak will be keen to consolidate his position and take advantage of any mistakes ahead.
SS9: 5th (+16.8)
SS10: 2nd (+5.7)
SS12: 2nd (+9.8)
SS13: 3rd (+3.6)
SS15: 4th (+0.5)
Ott Tänak (3rd) said:
“Overall I think it’s been a much more positive day than yesterday. We’ve had a much better feeling in the car and managed to improve the confidence and the driving. We had a big push in the afternoon, and to be back on the podium is a good thing.
“There are some more tricky stages tomorrow so we need to keep focused, but hopefully we can finish the year with another top-three result for the team.”
OGIER AND INGRASSIA
The five-time World Champions have become the victims of their own success this weekend. With an unassailable lead in the driver and co-driver standings, the Frenchmen were tasked with the unenviable job of opening the road.
Unable to battle for a top result, the pairing also encountered a few small issues over the course of the weekend and have had to work hard to maintain focus. With one day of competition left to contest, they will be keen to deliver some strong stage times to end their successful season on a high.
SS9: 6th (+20.6)
SS10: 9th (+28.9)
SS11: 2nd (+0.2)
SS12: 8th (+26.3)
SS13: 7th (+12.0)
SS15: 3rd (+0.4)
SS16: 7th (+0.7)
Sébastien Ogier (6th) said:
“This has not really been our rally but I suppose it’s better to deal with all these issues in one weekend than to deal with them separately over the season!
“We were hoping to try for some strong times through this afternoon’s loop but immediately after service we heard a noise on the rear. There was some damage and that altered the balance of the car. The end of the stage [SS12] was really slippery and in a fast, down-hill corner we had some massive understeer, hit a bank and spun.
“It’s just been about getting though the stages this afternoon, but tomorrow could be interesting with the weather. There are some really tricky stages and, if it’s wet, you never know. The rally isn’t over until it’s over so we have to keep going.”
EVANS AND BARRITT
Knowing that they would struggle with the conditions on offer this weekend, Elfyn Evans and Daniel Barritt have been focused on gaining vital experience and perfecting their notes for the future.
Despite a lack of traction preventing them from mounting an attack through the stages, the pairing have delivered a faultless drive so as to take the maximum away from their weekend.
SS9: 10th (+1:05.7)
SS10: 10th (+34.8)
SS11: 10th (+3.3)
SS12: 9th (+39.0)
SS13: 8th (+14.8)
SS15: 9th (+1.4)
SS16: 9th (+1.3)
Elfyn Evans (8th) said:
“We knew that we would struggle coming to this one, and we faced another tough day today. I really enjoy these stages, but we just didn’t have the traction to attack and enjoy them to the fullest. That said, we’ve made it through all of the stages and perfected the notes which will be valuable for the future.”
1. Thierry Neuville / Nicolas Gilsoul (Hyundai 120 Coupe WRC) 2:05:11.6
2. Jari-Matti Latvala / Miikka Anttila (Toyota Yaris WRC) +20.1
3. Ott Tänak / Martin Järveoja (Ford Fiesta WRC) +40.6
4. Craig Breen / Scott Martin (Citroen C3 WRC) +1:05.2
5. Hayden Paddon / Sebastian Marshall (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC) +1:21.1
6. Sébastien Ogier / Julien Ingrassia (Ford Fiesta WRC) +1:48.2
7. Stephane Lefebvre / Gabin Moreau (Citroen C3 WRC) +3:00.2
8. Elfyn Evans / Daniel Barritt (Ford Fiesta WRC) +3:25.3
9. Esapekka Lappi / Janne Ferme (Toyota Yaris WRC) +4:20.3
10. Nathan Quinn / Ben Searcy (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX) +17:35.2