M-Sport Ford World Rally Team’s Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia were chasing an incredible victory behind the wheel of their EcoBoost-powered Ford Fiesta WRC at this weekend’s Rally Turkey – only for it to be denied by a rare and costly mistake.
But there was good news for the Cumbrian squad’s young protégée – Teemu Suninen and Mikko Markkula moving into an impressive and highly creditable fourth place. There was also better fortune for Elfyn Evans and Daniel Barritt who delivered an assured performance to climb back to seventh place overall.
Team Principal, Malcolm Wilson OBE, said:
“It’s been a day of highs and lows, and we have certainly missed an opportunity this weekend. Sébastien had the pace to win, and it was twice within his grasp. It’s frustrating of course, but that is rallying and it’s not over yet.
“All credit to the mechanics that put in an almighty effort during the midday service break. It was a pleasure to watch them work – changing the transmission and full front suspension in just 30 minutes. They’re the best in the business and it’s just a shame that their hard work won’t be rewarded with the win this weekend.
“Teemu however is having a fantastic rally. He learnt a lot yesterday and showed some really impressive speed at times. He’s had to open the road today, but that’ll be good practice for when he’s leading the championship. If his performance this weekend is anything to go by then that day won’t be far away!
“Elfyn too had a much better day and has climbed back into seventh place overall. He’s shown some good speed, and even turned mechanic during the midday service which goes to prove the extent of which the whole team pulled together this afternoon.”
SUNINEN AND MARKKULA
Teemu Suninen and Mikko Markkula have moved into an impressive fourth place overall thanks to a composed and intelligent drive through some of the FIA World Rally Championship’s most challenging terrain.
Opening the road, the Finnish pairing had to contend with the worst of the loose gravel and had little chance of challenging for the top times – but it was good practice for the day they might find themselves leading the championship which may not be too far away.
Whereas others were caught out by the demanding conditions, Suninen delivered a mature and measured drive – taking full advantage of the experience on offer and reaping the rewards as a result.
SS8: 8th (+1:24.1)
SS9: 8th (+21.4)
SS10: 8th (+40.3)
SS11: 5th (+42.7)
SS12: 5th (+7.7)
SS13: 4th (+12.1)
Teemu Suninen (4th) said:
“It’s been another really rough and difficult day but I think we managed everything quite well. I tried to stay on quite a safe pace with the driving and that was the way to stay out of trouble. Of course I would have liked to have had a bit more pace, but we were opening the road and still have a lot to learn.”
EVANS AND BARRITT
Elfyn Evans and Daniel Barritt endured more than their fair share of bad luck yesterday, but the British pairing are never ones to give up the fight – battling back to seventh place with a meaningful drive through today’s challenging stages.
Posting a string of competitive stage times, the Brits proved their pace and even turned mechanics during the midday service break – Evans helping to change the wishbone and Barritt adjusting the ride height when all available mechanics were needed to work on the number one Fiesta.
SS8: 4th (+25.8)
SS9: 5th (+10.8)
SS10: 6th (+24.9)
SS11: 2nd (+9.5)
SS12: 2nd (+2.6)
SS13: 2nd (+2.1)
Elfyn Evans (7th) said:
“It’s been a pretty good day for us. We were taking it quite carefully and not taking any unnecessary risks, but the times were pretty encouraging and we’ve managed to climb back into a reasonably good position.”
OGIER AND INGRASSIA
Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia have endured a dramatic day of action at Rally Turkey. The Frenchmen’s speed was unrivalled throughout much of the day, but their impressive performance will go unrewarded – denied a victory that was twice within their grasp.
Setting a time 22.5 seconds faster than anyone else through this morning’s opening speed test (SS8), Ogier took charge at the head of the field. With his main rival failing to finish the opening stage, the Frenchman was in control. That was until the second test of the morning (SS9) which was completed with damage to the front of his Fiesta’s suspension.
Thankfully Ogier is a skilled mechanic and he and Ingrassia quickly set about repairing the problem on the road section. They incurred a 60-second time penalty for arriving six minutes late to the following stage, but the fix proved expert – Ogier and Ingrassia setting the fastest time by 6.4 seconds!
Returning to service, it was time for the M-Sport mechanics to shine and prove once again that they are the best in the business. Changing the transmission and full front suspension in just 30 minutes, the reigning World Champions were back out for the afternoon loop with their Fiesta in perfect working order.
Despite falling to fourth overall – 46.1 seconds adrift of the lead – their performance was at such a level that victory was still within their grasp and it looked as though they would retake the lead on the first stage of the afternoon (SS11).
Then all hopes of a sensational comeback ended in the Turkish wilderness. Mishearing a pacenote 19 kilometres into the stage Ogier slid wide – his Fiesta stuck off the road and all hopes of an extraordinary victory, dashed.
SS9: 7th (+18.0)
Sébastien Ogier (12th) said:
“Today has been a really tough day for us and I probably made one of the silliest mistakes of my career. It happened at the exit of a tight right-hand corner with another very tight left-hander straight after – so I was going very slowly.
“But I wasn’t listening to Julien very well and braked too late. We slid wide and came to a halt at a tree. The car had no damage and I could get it to move again. I reversed, but when I wanted to move forwards the ground was so soft that the car just sunk and got stuck.
“We fought very hard this morning to get back on the road. It was a hard time but we made it back to service and were still in the fight for some really good points. If this didn’t happen we would probably be in the lead, but we’re not.
“It seems like things don’t really want to go our way at the moment, but that’s motorsport. There are some bad days, but I’m sure some good ones will follow again soon.”
1. Ott Tänak / Martin Järveoja (Toyota Yaris WRC) 3:34:22.5
2. Jari-Matti Latvala / Miikka Anttila (Toyota Yaris WRC) +13.1
3. Hayden Paddon / Sebastian Marshal (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC) +1:10.5
4. Teemu Suninen / Mikko Markkula (Ford Fiesta WRC) +3:22.2
5. Andreas Mikkelsen / Anders Jaeger (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC) +6:25.4
7. Elfyn Evans / Daniel Barritt (Ford Fiesta WRC) +16:49.0
12. Sébastien Ogier / Julien Ingrassia (Ford Fiesta WRC) +21:04.8