M-Sport Ford World Rally Team’s Elfyn Evans and Scott Martin had the speed to challenge for another home-soil victory at this weekend’s Wales Rally GB, but Welsh hearts were broken early on when the returning heroes picked up a puncture through the first pass of Penmachno (SS3).
The puncture cost them 43.3 seconds to the leading pack, but seven fastest stage times later they finished just 48.6 seconds adrift of the win – proving that they and their EcoBoost-powered Ford Fiesta WRC had the ability to challenge for the top positions.
Despite their weekend not going to plan, Evans and Martin remain upbeat – coming out on top in their final-day battle for fifth place and knowing that they have the speed and the confidence to challenge for the top results when the FIA World Rally Championship travels to the final rounds in Spain and Australia.
Contesting his fourth completely different rally behind the wheel of the top-specification Fiesta this weekend, Pontus Tidemand has shown good progress with a series of competitive times on today’s closing stages.
Learning how to dial the car into the terrain, the young Swede was able to focus more fully on his driving and looked at home behind the wheel of the world rally car through the final kilometres.
Team Principal, Richard Millener, said:
“We might not have secured the result we wanted this weekend, but I think we can all take a lot of encouragement from Elfyn and Scott’s performance. They claimed seven stage wins and were it not for the puncture on Friday they would have been right up there challenging for the win.
“We know that we have a car capable of winning rallies, and we know that Elfyn and Scott are capable of delivering those wins. So despite this weekend’s frustrations, there is still a lot of positivity in the team and we’ll look to take that forward to Spain and Australia.
“It was also great to see Pontus so comfortable behind the wheel today. Not many people appreciate how massive the step up to this level is, and he’s learnt a lot about how to set-up the car on four completely different surfaces.
“You could see the difference in times when it all clicked for him this morning – and I really hope he gets some more outings with the Fiesta WRC so that he can build on the progress he’s shown this weekend.”
Elfyn Evans (5th) said:
“It’s been a pretty good weekend for us. Obviously it would have been nice to have finished a bit higher up the leader board, but that’s just the way it goes sometimes and there’s no room for ‘what ifs’ at this level – not with the competition as close as it is at the moment.
“Our pace has been really good all weekend and the support was absolutely incredible. There really is nothing quite like rallying on home soil, and when you’re posting fastest times in front of all those Welsh flags, it’s a pretty good feeling and definitely gives us some confidence ahead of the next events.”
Pontus Tidemand (7th) said:
“We’ve taken some big steps forward this weekend and improved every day. I had a lot to learn, but it was getting better and better and, this morning especially, I really felt as though I had broken the code for driving one of these world rally cars. I found a good set-up with the car and was able to focus more fully on my driving. We set some pretty good times today and were a lot closer to the leaders so I was really pleased with that.”