M-Sport brought their most successful FIA World Rally Championship to the perfect close at this weekend’s Kennard’s Hire Rally Australia – Ott Tänak and Martin Järveoja claiming second place to ensure that there has been an EcoBoost-powered Ford Fiesta WRC on the podium at every round of the championship.
Delivering on what was expected to be the team’s most challenging event of the year, all three M-Sport crews finished inside the overall top-five – mirroring their consistently strong performance throughout the season with all three crews also finishing inside the top-five in the championship standings.
M-Sport’s achievements have been vast this year. Wrapping up the FIA World Rally Championships for Drivers, Co-drivers and Manufacturers, M-Sport has also claimed more wins and more podiums than any of their rivals. All three crews have secured victory, and the Fiesta has proved competitive on every surface.
Team Principal, Malcolm Wilson OBE, said:
“This has been an absolutely incredible season for the team and we have truly sealed it in style this weekend. We knew this was likely to be our most challenging event of the year, so to have all three cars in the top-five at the end of the rally is fantastic.
“It really does mirror our performance throughout the season with all three of our crews also securing top-five positons in the championship. It’s something that we are extremely proud of and I think it goes to prove how consistently strong the whole team has been this year.
“We have produced a car that can reliably perform on any surface, and every single member of the team has put their all into everything they have done. This success wouldn’t have been possible were it not for them and I really am so proud of the passionate and dedicated workforce that we have here at M-Sport.
“To have Ott and Martin complete our full set of podiums was great and the perfect end to what has been a very special relationship. It isn’t easy to say goodbye, but I will say thank you for all that they have done this year. They’ve been such an integral part of our success, and we all wish them the best in their new adventures next season.”
TÄNAK AND JÄRVEOJA
Ott Tänak and Martin Järveoja secured their seventh podium of the year at this weekend’s Rally Australia – bringing their time with the M-Sport family to a positive close.
Having to contend with an unfavourable road position through the opening day of competition, the pairing gained confidence throughout the weekend and posted three fastest stage times on their way to second place overall.
Tänak and Järveoja have been an instrumental part of the team’s success and all of the M-Sport family would like to take this opportunity to thank them both, and wish them the very best of luck with their new adventures.
SS17: 6th (+7.2)
SS18: 5th (+14.5) SS19: 3rd (+4.7)
SS21: 2nd (+0.1)
Championship position: 3rd
Stage wins: 30
Ott Tänak (2nd) said:
“It was important to finish the season like this, and to finish our time with the M-Sport family in such a positive way. On Friday we were struggling a bit with the pace and losing the rear diffuser didn’t help with the balance. But after this we managed to find a good average speed and had the pace to achieve a podium.
“To be honest, I didn’t think too much about this being our last rally with Malcolm and the team until the last road section when Martin started to play some sad songs! It’s been a long journey together and it’s never easy to leave a family. It feels quite hard actually, but the whole championship is also a family so this isn’t goodbye, it’s just see you later.”
OGIER AND INGRASSIA
Having secured their fifth World Championship last time out in Wales, Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia travelled to Rally Australia on a high. But in a stark reversal of fate, the pairing have not enjoyed the best of fortunes this weekend.
Hampered by their road position through the opening stages, the Frenchmen have also had to contend with some niggling technical issues – an intermittent electrical glitch with the gear selection preventing a champion’s attack through all of the stages.
Despite their misfortunes, Ogier and Ingrassia did what they do best when the going gets tough – keeping their focus to deliver a solid fourth place as well as maximum points with the fastest time through the Power Stage
SS17: 3rd (+3.6)
SS18: 4th (+13.0) SS19: 6th (+7.5)
Championship position: 1st
Stage wins: 22
Sébastien Ogier (4th) said:
“It’s not been the smoothest of rallies for us, but at least we finished on a small positive with victory in the Power Stage. To be honest, it was more or less the only stage of the rally where everything was working for us.
“We had a lot to contend with this weekend – with the technical issues and also with our starting position through the opening stages. We just tried to stay focused and in the end that strategy paid off as fourth place was pretty unexpected.
“But regardless of this weekend, it really has been a fantastic season. A big thanks to Malcolm and the whole team. What we have achieved together this year really is incredible.”
EVANS AND BARRITT
Elfyn Evans and Daniel Barritt knew that they would struggle if the sandy Australian stages remained dry this weekend. Unable to attack through the first two days of sunny competition, the pairing focused on gaining vital knowledge and experience for the future.
But as torrential rain battered the final day’s stages, Evans’ was able to deliver a number of competitive times including the fastest time through Pilbara Reverse (SS17) – securing fifth place and his best ever result at Rally Australia.
SS18: 3rd (+8.5) SS19: 9th (+13.7)
SS21: 6th (+2.7)
Championship position: 5th
Stage wins: 27
Elfyn Evans (5th) said:
“We knew that we would struggle this weekend, but with the rain today we had an opportunity to use the soft tyre. It was a more enjoyable day for sure and it was nice to secure a stage win. It was unfortunate that we encountered a few little niggles after that, but all in all not a bad way to finish off the weekend.
“The season as a whole has been amazing for the team. We’ve worked with some great people this year who really deserve this success – a big thanks to all of them.”
ELSEWHERE IN THE TEAM
Kalle Rovenparä has secured his maiden WRC 2 victory on only his second outing in the FIA World Rally Championship. Getting to know the unique nature of the Australasian event, the Red Bull supported youngster continues to gain the vital knowledge and experience to progress his future career – a sensor issue on Friday followed by a double puncture through the second pass of Saturday’s stages being his only issues.
Kalle Rovanperä said:
“This was a really nice weekend for us and I think I have learnt a lot about the road conditions in Australia. I really like the stages in this part of the world – especially the ones that are fast and flowing and actually quite similar to Finland in some places. Comparing our times to the WRC competitors, it looked good, and I think we can be pleased with the job that we have done this weekend.”
1. Thierry Neuville / Nicolas Gilsoul (Hyundai 120 Coupe WRC) 2:35:44.8
2. Ott Tänak / Martin Järveoja (Ford Fiesta WRC) +22.5
3. Hayden Paddon / Sebastian Marshall (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC) +59.1
4. Sébastien Ogier / Julien Ingrassia (Ford Fiesta WRC) +2:27.7
5. Elfyn Evans / Daniel Barritt (Ford Fiesta WRC) +3:05.6
6. Esapekka Lappi / Janne Ferme (Toyota Yaris WRC) +3:49.5
7. Kris Meeke / Paul Nagle (Citroen C3 WRC) +22:58.4
8. Richie Dalton / John Allen (Skoda Fabia R5) +24:39.6
9. Nathan Quinn / Ben Searcy (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX) +25:03.4
10. Dean Herridge / Samuel Hill (Subaru Impreza WRX Sti) +29:52.3
1. Sébastien Ogier - 232
2. Thierry Neuville - 208
3. Ott Tänak - 191
4. Jari-Matti Latvala - 136
5. Elfyn Evans - 128
6. Dani Sordo - 95
7. Kris Meeke - 77
8. Hayden Paddon - 74
9. Juha Hänninen - 71
10. Craig Breen - 64
1. M-Sport World Rally Team - 428
2. Hyundai Motorsport - 345
3. Toyota Gazoo Racing WRC - 251
4. Citroen Total Abu Dhabi World Rally Team - 218