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
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.
SS20: 5th (+6.6)
SS21: 4th (+3.3)
SS22: 6th (+6.4)
SS23: 6th (+1.7)
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
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.
SS20: 6th (+6.9)
SS21: 9th (+5.0)
SS22: 8th (+7.7)
SS23: 8th (+5.1)
Teemu Suninen (6th) said:
“It’s been a tough weekend for us. We wanted to challenge for the podium, but we were missing some pace and couldn’t fight with the fastest drivers. I was able to beat my team mates and I am happy with that, but we let Seb past just before the last stage as he’s the one fighting for the championship.”
EVANS AND BARRITT
Elfyn Evans and Daniel Barritt had been hoping to challenge for another podium at this weekend’s Rally Finland, but it wasn’t to be.
Delivering a clean and tidy drive behind the wheel of their Fiesta, the Brits were unable to find the same feeling they’d enjoyed this time last year.
Seventh place was not the target, but the pairing will look to come back stronger at Rallye Deutschland.
SS20: 7th (+8.3)
SS21: 8th (+4.8)
SS22: 5th (+6.2)
SS23: 7th (+2.9)
Elfyn Evans (7th) said:
“It’s not been a terrible weekend driving wise and I don’t think anyone can say that they don’t enjoy driving these stages, but for sure seventh place wasn’t the result we wanted.”
1. Ott Tänak / Martin Järveoja (Toyota Yaris WRC) 2:35:18.1
2. Mads Østberg / Torstein Eriksen (Citroen C3 WRC) +32.7
3. Jari-Matti Latvala / Miikka Anttila (Toyota Yaris WRC) +35.5
4. Hayden Paddon / Sebastian Marshal (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC) +1:35.6
5. Sébastien Ogier / Julien Ingrassia (Ford Fiesta WRC) +2:15.0
6. Teemu Suninen / Mikko Markkula (Ford Fiesta WRC) +2:19.2
7. Elfyn Evans / Daniel Barritt (Ford Fiesta WRC) +2:29.5
8. Craig Breen / Scott Martin (Citroen C3 WRC) +3:08.4
9. Thierry Neuville / Nicolas Gilsoul (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC) +3:51.8
10. Andreas Mikkelsen / Anders Jaeger (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC) +8:37.4
1. Thierry Neuville - 153
2. Sébastien Ogier - 132
3. Ott Tänak - 107
4. Esapekka Lappi - 70
5. Dani Sordo - 60
6. Andreas Mikkelsen - 57
7. Jari-Matti Latvala - 55
8. Elfyn Evans - 52
9. Mads Østberg - 48
10. Kris Meeke - 43
13. Teemu Suninen - 32
1. Hyundai Motorsport - 228
2. M-Sport Ford World Rally Team - 202
3. Toyota Gazoo Racing WRC - 201
4. Citroen Total Abu Dhabi World Rally Team - 153