M-Sport Ford World Rally Team’s EcoBoost-powered Ford Fiesta WRC had the potential to deliver a double podium at this weekend’s ADAC Rallye Deutschland, but it wasn’t to be – Sébastien Ogier denied a chance of victory and Elfyn Evans missing out on the fight for the podium positions.
Yet despite the disappointment, the performance of the top-specification Fiesta shone through –Ogier salvaging valuable points with fourth place and a win in the Power Stage, and Teemu Suninen delivering a highly impressive drive to fifth place on his maiden outing with a world rally car on asphalt.
The Fiesta’s performance also went unrewarded further down the field – Éric Camilli retiring his EcoBoost-powered Ford Fiesta R5 from the lead of the WRC 2 category yesterday afternoon, and Jean-Baptiste Franceschi having to retire his one-litre EcoBoost Ford Fiesta R2 from the lead of the RC4 class before the event’s final stage.
Team Principal, Malcolm Wilson OBE, said:
“It’s been a frustrating weekend for the team as we had the performance to deliver a lot more. Luck has not been on our side here in Germany, but the season is not over yet and anything can happen with four events left to contest.
“It would have been difficult to beat Ott [Tänak], but Sébastien was right on his tail and had the pace to challenge for the win. The puncture denied him and Julien a strong haul of points that would have seen them reduce the gap in the championship, but fourth place and a win in the Power Stage is good damage limitation and proves that we still have what it takes.
“Elfyn too was unlucky this weekend – going off at the same place as Craig [Breen] in an incident which would ordinarily have gone unpunished. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case for Elfyn and he was denied an opportunity to fight for the podium.
“Teemu on the other hand has had an absolutely fantastic weekend – bettering everyone’s expectations on his first outing with a world rally car on Tarmac. He is such a fast learner, and you can see how much he takes in over the course of a weekend. It was a great performance, and suggests that he has the potential to be just as impressive on this surface as he is on gravel.”
OGIER AND INGRASSIA
Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia had the performance to challenge for their fourth victory of the year at this weekend’s ADAC Rallye Deutschland, but were cruelly denied when picking up a puncture through the event’s most iconic speed test – Panzerplatte (SS13).
Posting a number of fastest stage times behind the wheel of their Fiesta, the pairing were never more than a handful of seconds adrift of the lead and looked set to further reduce the gap in the championship standings.
But fate had other ideas and it wasn’t to be. Having to stop and change the punctured tyre, the five-time World Champions lost more than a minute and a half which dropped them down to an undeserving seventh place yesterday evening.
Climbing to fourth this morning, the pairing also secured maximum points with the fastest time through the Power Stage – proving what could have been whilst ensuring they only lost two points to their main championship rivals.
SS16: 2nd (+5.4)
Sébastien Ogier (4th) said:
“We deserved more this weekend so I can’t say that I am happy with the result, but that’s rallying and we just need to accept it. We saved the day by winning the Power Stage and now we just need to focus on the next one.”
SUNINEN AND MARKKULA
Teemu Suninen has already proven himself to be one of the best drivers in the world on gravel, and it looks as though the young Finn can be just as formidable on asphalt – securing a highly impressive fifth place on his sealed-surface debut with a world rally car.
Improving with every kilometre, Suninen and co-driver Mikko Markkula delivered a flawless performance. Continuously upping their pace, the pairing perfected their skills and regularly out-performed a number of their vastly more experienced rivals.
What’s more, Suninen already knows where he can make further gains on asphalt and will be sure to continue analysing his performance in search of every last tenth of a second.
SS16: 5th (+9.0)
SS17: 4th (+10.5)
SS18: 6th (+8.5)
Teemu Suninen (5th) said:
“It was a really great weekend of us and I was improving the driving a lot and finding a good set-up with the car. From the beginning of the rally until the end we made a lot of progress and I was able to set some really good times. Of course I couldn’t drive all of the stages like this, but I know what it takes – I just need the experience.”
EVANS AND BARRITT
Elfyn Evans and Daniel Barritt had the pace to challenge for a podium at this weekend’s Rallye Deutschland, but were cruelly denied by the smallest of mistakes.
Overcoming their later running order through the opening day of competition, the British pairing were locked in an intense battle for the podium and were amongst the favourites to take home the silverware.
Then, on the first pass of Römerstrasse (SS11), they were caught out by some gravel and ran wide into a field. It was a mistake that would so often go unpunished, but the luckless Brits encountered a concrete block concealed in the undergrowth which damaged the suspension.
SS16: 8th (+21.6)
SS17: 8th (+15.8)
SS18: 8th (+26.6)
Elfyn Evans (25th) said:
“We had a positive first day and, considering our road position, I think we did a pretty good job. But unfortunately Saturday just didn’t go our way at all. We lost a bit of time on the opening stage [SS8], had a spin in the third one [SS10] and then a trip into the field in the fourth [SS11] which ended in retirement. It certainly wasn’t the result we came here for, so now we just have to look forward to the next one.”
ELSEWHERE IN THE TEAM
Jourdan Serderidis said:
“It’s been a dream weekend for me. We’ve enjoyed driving the Fiesta and working with the team who have been very good all weekend and really helped to build our confidence. We’ve improved a lot throughout the event and I have really enjoyed what has been a near-perfect weekend.”
1. Ott Tänak / Martin Järveoja (Toyota Yaris WRC) 3:03:36.9
2. Thierry Neuville / Nicolas Gilsoul (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC) +39.2
3. Esapekka Lappi / Janne Ferm (Toyota Yaris WRC) +1:00.9
4. Sébastien Ogier / Julien Ingrassia (Ford Fiesta WRC) +1:34.5
5. Teemu Suninen / Mikko Markkula (Ford Fiesta WRC) +2:02.9
6. Andreas Mikkelsen / Anders Jaeger (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC) +2:13.8
7. Craig Breen / Scott Martin (Citroen C3 WRC) +2:39.1
8. Marijan Griebel / Alexander Rath (Citroen DS3 WRC) +10:41.2
9. Jan Kopecky / Pavel Dresler (Skoda Fabia R5) +13:12.8
10. Kalle Rovanpera / Jonne Halttunen (Skoda Fabia R5) +13:16.6
1. Thierry Neuville - 172
2. Sébastien Ogier - 149
3. Ott Tänak - 136
4. Esapekka Lappi - 88
5. Andreas Mikkelsen - 65
6. Dani Sordo - 60
7. Jari-Matti Latvala - 55
8. Elfyn Evans - 52
9. Mads Østberg - 48
10. Craig Breen - 47
12. Teemu Suninen - 32
1. Hyundai Motorsport - 254
2. Toyota Gazoo Racing WRC - 241
3. M-Sport Ford World Rally Team - 224
4. Citroen Total Abu Dhabi World Rally Team - 159