M-Sport Ford World Rally Team’s EcoBoost-powered Ford Fiesta WRCs delivered another strong performance at Rally de Portugal today – Elfyn Evans consolidating his second position as Teemu Suninen edged to within five seconds of the podium.
With just five stages left to contest, there remains all to play for and the team will leave no stone unturned in pursuit of the best possible result.
Team Principal, Malcolm Wilson OBE, said:
“It’s fantastic to see Elfyn and Teemu doing such a good job, and a real confidence boost for the team to see that they are able to fight for the top positions at such a critical point in the season.
“Elfyn is in a much better place this weekend and it’s great to see him back at the top of the time sheets. I think he was probably a bit disappointed with his runs through the long stage, but it’s still been a good performance and he’s on course for what could be a really important result for both him and the team.
“We’ve kept Teemu on the brakes for the past couple of events, but the brakes have been taken off here and he’s making sure nobody forgets what a promising young driver he is. He’s been consistently strong today and if he can continue like that tomorrow, he’ll be in with a chance of challenging for the podium.
“Coming back under Rally 2 regulations, I’m sure it’s been a bit of a frustrating day for Sébastien, but he’s kept focused and worked on a few things with the set-up. His main goal is now to try and salvage some points in the Power Stage. It won’t be easy given his expected road position, but every point will count this year.”
EVANS AND BARRITT
Elfyn Evans and Daniel Barritt are on course for a podium finish at this weekend’s Rally de Portugal – their EcoBoost-powered Ford Fiesta WRC currently holding second place overall.
Delivering a further two fastest stage times over the course of the day, the Welshman consolidated his position and extended his advantage over Dani Sordo to 17.4 seconds.
With just five short stages left to contest, Evans is on the brink of securing his best result of the season – and the perfect confidence boost for the events to come.
SS10: 4th (+3.3)
SS12: 8th (+17.2)
SS14: 4th (+5.0)
SS15: 6th (+14.3)
Elfyn Evans (2nd) said:
“On the whole I think we can be pretty happy with our day. It’s not been perfect by all means and I was a bit disappointed with both runs through the Amarante stage (SS12 and SS15). But overall we can be pretty satisfied and we’re in a good position going into tomorrow.”
SUNINEN AND MARKKULA
Teemu Suninen is just 51.53 kilometres away from equalling his best ever result in the FIA World Rally Championship – his EcoBoost-powered Ford Fiesta WRC currently holding fourth place overall.
Excelling through the more familiar terrain, Suninen and co-driver Mikko Markkula have regularly outperformed their more experienced rivals and are also in with a chance of challenging for their maiden podium – just 4.7 seconds adrift of Dani Sordo in third.
SS10: 7th (+7.3)
SS11: 6th (+8.0)
SS12: 6th (+13.2)
SS13: 3rd (+5.0)
SS14: 5th (+5.9)
SS15: 5th (+12.2)
Teemu Suninen (4th) said:
“It’s been a good day for us and I was really pleased to see that we were able to improve through the slower sections which is what we wanted to work on today. Now there are just five stages left and it looks like we have a chance of challenging for the podium too. I’m really happy to be in this battle, and tomorrow I want to continue like this – to show what I can do.”
OGIER AND INGRASSIA
Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia thrive on competition, but the Frenchmen had little to fight for after an uncharacteristic mistake ended any chance of a strong result at this year’s Rally de Portugal.
Returning under Rally 2 regulations, the pairing posted the fastest time through the final stage of the day and are now focused on salvaging some valuable points through tomorrow’s closing Power Stage.
SS10: 5th (+4.7)
SS11: 5th (+6.6)
SS12: 5th (+11.1)
SS13: 2nd (+1.5)
SS14: 3rd (+1.4)
Sébastien Ogier (Rally 2) said:
“It wasn’t a very exciting day for us, but I wanted to make use of it – doing some work on the car and trying to find some little things to improve the set-up. I’m pleased with that and we were quickest over the second loop – closing the day with a fastest time. Power Stage points is the only thing we can try to push for tomorrow. We’ll be running pretty early on the road so it won’t be easy, but at least we have nothing to lose.”
1. Thierry Neuville / Nicolas Gilsoul (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC) 3:16:30.0
2. Elfyn Evans / Daniel Barritt (Ford Fiesta WRC) +39.8
3. Dani Sordo / Carlos del Barrio (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC) +57.2
4. Teemu Suninen / Mikko Markkula (Ford Fiesta WRC) +1:01.9
5. Esapekka Lappi / Janne Ferm (Toyota Yaris WRC) +1:13.0
6. Mads Østberg / Torstein Eriksen (Citroen DS3 WRC) +3:14.1
7. Craig Breen / Scott Martin (Citroen DS3 WRC) +4:53.1
8. Pontus Tidemand / Jonas Andersson (Skoda Fabia R5) +12:52.7
9. Lukasz Pieniazek / Przemyslaw Mazur (Skoda Fabia R5) +14:12.1
10. Stephane Lefebvre / Gabin Moreau (Citroen C3 R5) +15:00.4