M-Sport Ford World Rally Team’s Elfyn Evans and Teemu Suninen are all set for the first of a South American double-header at next weekend’s Rally Argentina.
With proven pace on all surfaces, the EcoBoost-powered Ford Fiesta WRC secured consecutive podiums in Mexico and Corsica, and the squad will be looking for more of the same next week.
Completing a two-day development test in advance of the rally, preparations have been made and the stage is set for three thrilling weeks of rallying!
Team Principal, Richard Millener, said:
“Having proven our potential pace and strength, we’re all looking forward to seeing what we can do at Rally Argentina. With two podiums on the bounce, we’re keen to make it three and that’s what we’ll be aiming for next week.
“Admittedly we weren’t particularly strong here last year, but we have been working hard to rectify that. Our designers and engineers never stop working and just last week we completed a two-day development test in Greystoke forest.
“We won’t see everything we tested on the cars just yet, but the session also provided an opportunity to test and confirm various gravel set-ups as well as getting Elfyn and Teemu back into the rhythm of loose-surface rallying.
“Argentina is a pretty special place for Elfyn and his performance in Corsica shows that he can take the fight to the three main championship contenders. Teemu has only driven a world rally car here once before, but that didn’t stop him showing his speed in Sweden and I wouldn’t be surprised to see some strong times from him next week.
“This will also be the first in a South American double-header which requires a lot of extra preparation from the team. We’re limited as to what we can use at the following round in Chile –same chassis, engine, transmission and some dampers for example – and we’re not returning to Europe so will complete a full re-prep of the cars in Argentina after the rally.
“Every eventuality has had to be considered and our guys have been working hard to ensure that’s the case. We’re pretty sure we’re got everything covered, but this will be a new experience for all of us and I’m sure there’ll be one or two challenges along the way!”
RALLY ARGENTINA: ATMOSPHERE AND ACTION
Rally Argentina delivers atmosphere and action in abundance. Based in the lakeside resort of Carlos Villa Paz, the route remains largely unchanged and the fast gravel stages play host to some of the FIA World Rally Championship’s most passionate fans and most epic battles.
Many of the stages are smoother than some would expect and a good chassis is needed to build confidence at high speed. But the teams must also be prepared for some pretty hefty impacts – not least on the final day when the famous Mina Clavero and El Condor make for rough going.
This year’s Rally Argentina is also the first in a South American double-header and the team will have a big challenge as they re-prep the cars away from the workshop. The majority of the work will be done in Argentina and every eventuality has to be considered – ensuring the team meet strict deadlines to get the cars across the Andes and onto their next event in Chile.
ELFYN EVANS AND SCOTT MARTIN
Rally Argentina is a special place for Elfyn Evans. It’s where he secured his first podium in 2015 and where he came so close to victory in 2017 – missing out by just 0.7 seconds in the joint-third closest finish in FIA World Rally Championship history.
He and co-driver Scott Martin have had a good start to the season and proven their ability to fight at the head of the field. Challenging for wins, the pairing have secured two podiums in the last two events, and will be looking for a third in Argentina.
Previous starts: 5
Best result: 2nd (2017)
Elfyn Evans said:
“I’ve always enjoyed Rally Argentina and I’m looking forward to heading back there again this year. The Argentine fans are amazing and make it a really special place for rallying – and for me. It’s where I got my first podium back in 2015, and where I came pretty close to victory in 2017.
“We’ve had a pretty good start to the season and we want to see that continue that next week. We’ve had the speed, we’ve made some good steps forward with the car and we’ve secured two back-to-back podiums.
“The goal will be to continue that with another podium in Argentina. The competition is exceptionally strong at the moment and it’s fair to say that we struggled here last year. But I’m confident in the work we’ve been doing and if everything goes to plan I see no reason why we can’t challenge for another top result.”
TEEMU SUNINEN AND MARKO SALMINEN
Teemu Suninen may have only competed in Argentina on one previous occasion, but that hasn’t stopped him showcasing some impressive pace in the past.
With this year’s route largely unchanged, the young Finn will be looking to put all he’s learnt into practice and should not be discounted for a strong result – he and co-driver Marko Salminen capable of springing a surprise or two through next week’s fast gravel stages.
Previous starts: 1
Best result: 9th (2018)
Teemu Suninen said:
"I’m really looking forward to next week and it will be interesting to see where we are. The start of the season has shown that the team have clearly taken another step forward with the car. There are still some question marks, but based on the previous events I feel that we can be competitive in Argentina.
“I competed here for the first time last year and really enjoyed it. It’s not a particularly rough rally, but it is fast and requires a lot of strength. On a long straight you can feel the holes in the road as they bounce the car in the air! You also need a lot of traction and the car needs to handle well in the ruts – which is one of the things we focused on at our test last week.
“Personally, I don’t feel the same pressure that I had before Corsica but I still need to finish this rally with a good result. The good thing is that we can rely on our old pace notes from last year as there aren’t many changes to the route."
A NEW PARTNER: WELCOMING ACRONIS
We are proud to welcome Acronis to the team. As a global leader in cyber protection, Acronis will provide the M-Sport Ford World Rally Team with innovative cyber protection solutions – designed to improve data resiliency and create a more efficient and secure workflow.
While the partnership is Acronis’ first within the FIA World Rally Championship, the company is already the technology partner of choice for many teams in Formula One and Formula E.
Malcolm Wilson OBE, M-Sport Managing Director, said:
“It’s great to welcome Acronis to the team. Cyber protection is becoming increasingly vital and it’s important that our data is kept secure. Working alongside a company like Acronis means that our engineers can continue to push the boundaries of development – their work kept safe, secure and protected from modern cyber threats.”
Dan Havens, Acronis Growth Officer, said:
“Acronis technology meets the efficiency and reliability of teams competing in the FIA World Rally Championship. It covers all aspects of cyber protection, helping the team focus on the development of their car and achieving results without worrying about the safety of their data. We are proud to be associated with the M-Sport Ford World Rally Team and look forward to a long, successful partnership.”