M-Sport Ford World Rally Team’s three EcoBoost-powered Ford Fiesta WRCs all continue to traverse the treacherous Rally Argentina stages unscathed – Sébastien Ogier climbing to fourth position, Elfyn Evans climbing to sixth and Teemu Suninen holding ninth place overall.
With three more challenging speed tests left to contest, there remains all to play for and the Cumbrian squad will continue to muster all of their trademark determination in search of a strong haul of points.
Team Principal, Malcolm Wilson OBE, said:
“It’s not been the best of days for us, but we’ve got all three cars to the end of the second day in solid positions. If we can bring those points home tomorrow then I think we can be reasonably happy.
“It became clear this morning that it would be difficult for Sébastien to catch the guys ahead of him, but he’s one of those drivers that you don’t have to tell what to do. He’s so clever when it comes to strategy – not taking any risks and not getting frustrated when things aren’t going his way.
“Elfyn has had a tough rally, but when the conditions became more difficult this morning he did an incredible job. There’s still some work to do to get him back on the pace of the guys at the front, but it was nice to see that time come through in the fog.
“Teemu is doing exactly what he should be doing this weekend. Of course I’m sure he’s frustrated not to be challenging for the top positions, but it’s so vital for the future that he gets the experience on these really demanding roads.”
OGIER AND INGRASSIA
Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia started the day with a real chance of securing a top-three result this weekend – another inspired performance whilst opening the road leaving them just 10 seconds shy of the podium.
But as fog reduced visibility through the longest stage of the morning, so did it reduce their chances of challenging for the top-three.
Focusing on the bigger picture and retaining their lead at the head of the championship, the pairing didn’t carry the same risks as their rivals – putting the podium out of reach as a result.
Consolidating their position as the day continued, the Frenchmen posted a series of solid times behind the wheel of their EcoBoost-powered Ford Fiesta WRC and will be determined to bring home the points tomorrow.
SS9: 5th (+7.8)
SS10: 5th (+11.2)
SS11: 8th (+54.2)
SS12: 4th (+1.3)
SS13: 4th (+3.5)
SS14: 4th (+3.0)
SS15: 5th (+9.9)
Sébastien Ogier (4th) said:
“I wasn’t committed enough to go for it in the fog this morning. I was a bit too careful and maybe also a bit distracted when I got the message that Craig [Breen] and Esapekka [Lappi] were stopped – thinking something worse would be coming. At least we are here now – finishing the day in the points which isn’t too bad for the championship.
“Dani [Sordo] did a great job today and it would have been difficult to catch him anyway. It looks as though we’re not as fast here as we have been at the previous events. Like last year we struggled with the pace and we’re not exactly sure why – so at the end of the day fourth position is not too bad.
“Tomorrow we will of course try to hold on to this position, and it would be good to grab some extra points in the power stage. The three stages tomorrow are the toughest challenge of the weekend. We’ll have to see what the weather does and – if it turns out to be foggy as it so often does on El Condor – it will be a challenge for sure.”
EVANS AND BARRITT
Elfyn Evans and Daniel Barritt may be struggling to find the sweet spot this weekend, but they had no issues through the fog that blighted the longest stage of the morning – at one with the pacenotes and delivering a committed and meaningful drive behind the wheel of their EcoBoost-powered Ford Fiesta WRC.
As the stage progressed and visibility improved, the leaders took advantage of a cleaner road but the Welshman was still the third fastest man through the 40.48 kilometre stage – climbing two places in the process.
Despite being just 10 seconds adrift of the top-five at the midday service break, the Brits were unable to capitalise further – struggling for grip throughout the afternoon loop.
SS9: 9th (+17.4)
SS10: 9th (+16.5)
SS11: 3rd (+16.3)
SS12: 9th (+5.7)
SS13: 9th (+15.0)
SS14: 9th (+14.5)
SS15: 7th (+21.7)
Elfyn Evans (7th) said:
“It’s been another tough day to be honest, and we were still struggling in all the clean stages. We were able to make a difference in the fog – pushing very hard and setting a pretty decent time – but we’re still not where we would like to be and need to find the answer.”
SUNINEN AND MARKKULA
Adapting a mature approach on his first encounter with the Argentine stages, Teemu Suninen continues to gain the vital experience that will see him progress in the future – guided, as always, by the experience of compatriot co-driver Mikko Markkula.
Gathering knowledge of the various stage characteristics, confirming his pacenotes and analysing areas to improve his driving, the young Finn’s methodical approach has also produced some promising times – out performing his more experienced rivals on more on than one occasion.
SS9: 10th (+21.8)
SS10: 10th (+22.7)
SS11: 7th (+48.0)
SS12: 8th (+5.1)
SS13: 8th (+13.5)
SS14: 8th (+12.9)
SS15: 8th (+48.2)
Teemu Suninen (9th) said:
“We’ve been the second car on the road today so we had a lot of cleaning to do. I was a bit disappointed with the time in last stage, but it’s all a learning curve and all okay. Tomorrow we will experience another completely different type of stage where the roads are a lot slower and a lot narrower. I’ve still got some homework to do, but hopefully next time we will be better.”
1. Ott Tänak / Martin Järveoja (Toyota Yaris WRC) 2:58:33.9
2. Thierry Neuville / Nicolas Gilsoul (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC) +46.5
3. Dani Sordo / Carlos del Barrio (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC) +1:08.2
4. Sébastien Ogier / Julien Ingrassia (Ford Fiesta WRC) +1:59.0
5. Andreas Mikkelsen / Anders Jaeger (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC) +2:13.8
6. Esapekka Lappi / Janne Ferm (Toyota Yaris WRC) +2:42.9
7. Elfyn Evans / Daniel Barritt (Ford Fiesta WRC) +2:49.1
8. Kris Meeke / Paul Nagle (Citroen DS3 WRC) +3:20.4
9. Teemu Suninen / Mikko Markkula (Ford Fiesta WRC) +4:17.6
10. Kalle Rovanperä / Jonne Halttunen (Skoda Fabia R5) +10:50.2