M-Sport Ford World Rally Team’s three EcoBoost-powered Ford Fiesta WRCs have made it through the second day of competition at Kennards Hire Rally Australia – ready to play their part in an epic title fight that is set to go down to the wire.
The FIA World Rally Championship for Manufacturers may be all but gone, but a sixth crown for Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia is within sight and the Cumbrian squad will be giving their all to defend their driver and co-driver titles tomorrow.
Six is the magic number, and all Ogier needs to do is remain in sixth place with Thierry Neuville behind in the standings – do that and the crown belongs to Ogier once more; regardless of what fellow rival Ott Tänak can do at the head of the field or what either contender can muster in the Power Stage.
Team Principal, Malcolm Wilson OBE, said:
“We are witnessing a truly golden age of rallying and it is fantastic to watch – albeit pretty nerve-wracking too! Whoever comes out on top tomorrow will be a deserving champion, and everyone in the service park can consider themselves winners for providing such a spectacular show.
“It was a bit of a frustrating day with all three of our drivers clearing the loose gravel, but we saw some good times in the Super Specials and – most importantly – Sébastien and Julien are where they need to be to clinch the title. Anything can happen over the closing stages, but it’s looking good at the moment.”
OGIER AND INGRASSIA: SIXTH AFTER EIGHTEEN STAGES
Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia are doing exactly what they need to do. Having to contend with the worst of the road cleaning this weekend, it hasn’t been possible to fight for the victory –but that is not the main objective. The main objective is the defence of their championship, and they’re on course to achieve that through tomorrow’s closing stages.
SS9: 8th (+9.1)
SS10: 8th (+21.0)
SS11: 8th (+19.4)
SS12: =4th (+0.4)
SS13: 8th (+6.8)
SS14: 8th (+13.0)
SS15: 9th (+12.2)
SS16: 3rd (+0.8)
SS17: 4th (+2.0)
SS18: 11th (+7.5)
Sébastien Ogier (6th) said:
“The loose gravel has made it a difficult rally for us so far, but it’s been a positive day in terms of the championship and I’m very happy with that.
“First on the road yesterday was really tough. Fifth on the road today was a little bit better, but we still lost a lot of time compared to the guys starting further back.
“It was a bit frustrating sometimes, but the main target is the championship and scoring the points we need. That’s what we’re doing at the moment, but tomorrow’s final kilometres will feel pretty long and we’ll need to be focused.”
EVANS AND BARRITT: SEVENTH AFTER EIGHT STAGES
Elfyn Evans and Daniel Barritt are the team players of the year and continue to aid Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia in their quest for a sixth FIA World Rally Championship title. Handing Ogier a more advantageous road position yesterday evening, Evans continued to push hard through today’s stages – keeping Neuville behind and showing his speed through both passes of Raleigh (SS12 and SS16).
SS9: 9th (+10.6)
SS10: 10th (+31.3)
SS11: 7th (+14.6)
SS13: 10th (+9.1)
SS14: 10th (+23.7)
SS15: 8th (+11.8)
SS16: 2nd (+0.6)
SS17: =6th (+2.4)
SS18: 3rd (+0.9)
Elfyn Evans (7th) said:
“We all knew it would be difficult being early on the road today. The gravel was really loose and you could see how much it was cleaning and how much faster the road was getting with every car. Still, we delivered a clean and tidy drive and it was nice to show some speed through both passes of the Raleigh stage.”
SUNINEN AND MARKKULA: NINTH AFTER EIGHTEEN STAGES
Teemu Suninen and Mikko Markkula are contesting Rally Australia for the first time this weekend and showed their potential with some quick times though yesterday’s stages. But the young Finn couldn’t find the same rhythm today and struggling to harness the same level of performance through the loose gravel. A quick learner, Suninen improved over the second pass and will be keen to further his experience tomorrow.
SS9: 11th (+18.6)
SS10: 11th (+37.1)
SS11: 10th (+27.1)
SS12: 6th (+0.7)
SS13: 11th (+11.8)
SS14: 11th (+24.3)
SS15: 11th (+23.2)
SS16: 8th (+1.9)
SS17: =6th (+2.4)
SS18: 2nd (+0.3)
Teemu Suninen (9th) said:
“Today has been more difficult for me and I still have a lot to learn about how to drive in this loose gravel. I didn’t have the best rhythm, but we got a bit better in the afternoon and now there is just one more day to go."
1. Ott Tänak / Martin Järveoja (Toyota Yaris WRC) 2:07:52.0
2. Jari-Matti Latvala / Miikka Anttila (Toyota Yaris WRC) +21.9
3. Hayden Paddon / Sebastian Marshall (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC) +26.3
4. Mads Østberg / Torstein Eriksen (Citroen C3 WRC) +46.6
5. Esapekka Lappi / Janne Ferm (Toyota Yaris WRC) +50.4
6. Sébastien Ogier / Julien Ingrassia (Ford Fiesta WRC) +1:44.8
7. Elfyn Evans / Daniel Barritt (Ford Fiesta WRC) +2:04.6
8. Thierry Neuville / Nicolas Gilsoul (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC) +2:35.2
9. Teemu Suninen / Mikko Markkula (Ford Fiesta WRC) +2:49.0
10. Craig Breen / Scott Martin (Citroen C3 WRC) +6:26.8