M-Sport Ford World Rally Team’s EcoBoost-powered Ford Fiesta WRCs are in with a chance of challenging for another podium at this weekend’s Neste Rally Finland.
With Teemu Suninen in fifth place, Sébastien Ogier sixth and Elfyn Evans seventh, the team have their sights firmly fixed on a top-three finish and will be focused on climbing the leader board as the event continues.
Team Principal, Malcolm Wilson OBE, said:
“I think we can be reasonably happy with our day. We’ve got all three cars here in a solid position, and we know from last year that anything can happen over these next two days. The podium is still possible and, although we have to keep one eye on the championship, we’ve got to keep the pressure on as well.”
SUNINEN AND MARKKULA
Teemu Suninen and Mikko Markkula are in the fight for a podium result at this weekend’s Rally Finland. Currently holding fifth place behind the wheel of their Fiesta, the pairing were running as high as third overall and remain in with a chance of some silverware.
At home in the Finnish forests, Suninen has delivered some consistently strong times and entertained rally fans around the world when demonstrating his skill – and luck – with a McRae-style save from the ditches of Äänekoski (on SS5).
Heading into the afternoon loop, the young Finn had to contend with the worst of the rutted conditions and backed off the pace to safeguard a solid position. And despite a brake problem costing him 10 seconds to the leaders through the final stage (SS11), he remains in contention with all to play for through the remaining two days of competition.
SS1: 11th (+2.8)
SS2: 3rd (+6.6)
SS3: 6th (+3.2)
SS4: 4th (+5.2)
SS5: 9th (+4.5)
SS6: 3rd (+3.8)
SS7: 5th (+5.4)
SS8: 6th (+4.2)
SS9: 10th (+8.7)
SS10: 8th (+3.4)
SS11: 22nd (+10.5)
Teemu Suninen (5th) said:
“It’s been a tough day. We were fighting for a podium position but then we had a few issues and dropped down to fifth. The driving has been on an okay level, but there is still some more to find and I hope that I can find that tomorrow.”
OGIER AND INGRASSIA
Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia came to Rally Finland intent on closing the gap to their championship rivals and are on course to do just that – their Fiesta currently holding sixth place; four up on the young pretenders to their throne.
Running second on the road, the five-time World Champions have not been favoured with the best of road position and have also had to balance the risks of a flat-out attack with the need to secure a strong haul of points.
SS1: 3rd (+0.8)
SS2: 7th (+15.5)
SS3: 8th (+5.7)
SS4: 8th (+9.5)
SS5: 8th (+3.1)
SS6: 9th (+15.2)
SS7: 10th (+11.2)
SS8: 4th (+2.9)
SS9: 5th (+4.0)
SS10: 6th (+3.2)
Sébastien Ogier (6th) said:
“If I’m honest, I expected things to happen the way they did today. With the roads being so dry, it was a tough day for us and we lost some time for sure. That said, I have to say hats off to Ott [Tänak] because he has been flying. Starting just behind us, he was setting times which were really impressive to watch.
“I think I did more or less what I could today. Of course I could have gone a little faster – a few tenths here and there – but then I would have needed to take some big risks. Our road position will be a bit better tomorrow, and hopefully we can find some small things to be a bit faster. It’s not been an easy day, but we’ll keep trying tomorrow.”
EVANS AND BARRITT
Delivering a clean and tidy drive behind the wheel of their Fiesta, Elfyn Evans and Daniel Barritt currently hold seventh place. The Brits had been in with a chance of challenging for the podium, but fell adrift when struggling with the balance through the afternoon loop.
With 188.58 competitive kilometres left to contest, there remains all to play for and the Welshman should not be discounted – holding seventh position this time last year before going on to claim a fantastic second place.
SS1: 9th (+2.6)
SS2: 6th (+12.0)
SS3: 7th (+5.3)
SS4: 7th (+8.7)
SS5: 7th (+3.0)
SS6: 8th (+11.3)
SS7: 9th (+9.9)
SS8: 8th (+4.6)
SS9: 8th (+6.7)
SS10: 10th (+7.3)
SS11: 9th (+1.9)
Elfyn Evans (7th) said:
“We can’t be completely satisfied as this isn’t really the position we were looking for. Although to be fair, it was pretty clear that the road evolution played a big part over the morning loop. With the exception of Ott [Tänak] who was just on a different planet, we were faster than everyone in front of us but the guys behind were faster than us.
“We then struggled on a few stages this afternoon so it was okay but not perfect. There’s still a long way to go, and Saturday was a really good day for us last year – so we have to try and let’s just see what happens.”
1. Ott Tänak / Martin Järveoja (Toyota Yaris WRC) 1:04:14.9
2. Mads Østberg / Torstein Eriksen (Citroen C3 WRC) +5.8
3. Jari-Matti Latvala / Miikka Anttila (Toyota Yaris WRC) +23.1
4. Hayden Paddon / Sebastian Marshal (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC) +36.4
5. Teemu Suninen / Mikko Markkula (Ford Fiesta WRC) +46.1
6. Sébastien Ogier / Julien Ingrassia (Ford Fiesta WRC) +58.9
7. Elfyn Evans / Daniel Barritt (Ford Fiesta WRC) +1:01.1
8. Esapekka Lappi / Janne Ferm (Toyota Yaris WRC) +1:01.4
9. Craig Breen / Scott Martin (Citroen C3 WRC) +1:34.1
10. Thierry Neuville / Nicolas Gilsoul (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC) +1:57.7