M-Sport Ford World Rally Team’s Elfyn Evans and Scott Martin have missed out on a solid result this weekend and their EcoBoost-powered Ford Fiesta WRC won’t be making the journey to Monte-Carlo this evening.
Holding sixth place at the start of the day, the Welshman had the podium within his sights – and the speed and determination to make a move on the timesheets. But it wasn’t to be and he endured a heartbreakingly tough morning.
Taking time out of his two closest rivals on the first speed test (SS9), Evans had the upper hand before a puncture put paid to his efforts. Regrouping for the second stage (SS10), he was then caught out by a patch of black ice – sending him down a steep embankment and into the undergrowth.
With no restart available this evening, Evans’ Rallye Monte-Carlo came to an end five kilometres into SS10 and his attentions are now firmly fixed on preparations for next month’s Rally Sweden.
Elsewhere, Teemu Suninen and Pontus Tidemand continued to gain the vital knowledge and experience needed to succeed at this notoriously difficult event. Contesting Rallye Monte-Carlo for the first time with the power and performance of the top-specification Fiesta, they have both continuously increased their pace and performance throughout the weekend.
Team Principal, Richard Millener, said:
“It’s been a pretty frustrating weekend. We know that we are capable of more and unfortunately we just haven’t been able to show that. Elfyn and Scott were delivering a really solid drive and we were confident of climbing the leader board, but that all came to an end this morning.
“It was looking good on the first stage [SS9] before they picked up a puncture, and then on the second [SS10] there was a particularly nasty patch of black ice that caught out a number of drivers. It put them slightly off the road and down an embankment where they had no chance of getting back on the stage.
“With no restart that was literally the end of the road, but Teemu and Pontus are still going and it’s good to see how much progress they have both shown over the course of the weekend. They’ve both shown good speed when you consider how little knowledge they have here, and they’ll continue to gain that all-important experience tomorrow.”
Elfyn Evans (DNF) said:
“The first stage this morning [SS9] started off okay, but we picked up a puncture which was pretty unlucky. It was on the rear in a cut that everyone else had been in. It was just one of those things, and we made the decision to continue which I think was right in terms of time.
“Then on the next stage [SS10] there was a pretty straight forward left-hander that’s been around for a number of years. I didn’t approach it any differently to how I usually would, but it seems as though the grip levels were particularly low.
“Maybe there was some black ice as a few cars got caught out, but they were a lot luckier than us. There was quite a steep bank with some trees on the outside, the car got dragged down, and that’s where our Rallye Monte-Carlo came to the end.
“Everyone comes to a rally with the best intentions, and it definitely wasn’t part of the plan to start the year on the bad note. All of our attentions are now fully focused on the next event and we’re looking forward to getting back on it in Sweden.”
Teemu Suninen (14th) said:
“Today was a pretty good day for us and we didn’t make any mistakes. We showed good pace this morning, but in the afternoon I was too careful. I was concentrated on looking after the studs, but actually the ice layer had become so thin that the studs didn’t give any extra grip. But I think I can be happy with my day and how my pace has improved throughout the weekend.”
Pontus Tidemand (24th) said:
“We have seen some very tricky conditions today so I’m glad to be here. We had a slow puncture after six kilometres in the first stage this morning [SS9] and, as we only had one spare, we took it really carefully after that.
“It’s so easy to make a mistake in these conditions so I tried to be on the safe side this afternoon as well. We need time in the car to learn, and it was important to make sure that we continue to get more experience tomorrow.”