Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia secured their second victory of the year at this weekend’s Rally de Portugal – powering to the top step of the podium with a faultless drive behind the wheel of their Ecoboost-powered Ford Fiesta WRC.
Despite a brush with the Portuguese scenery, Ott Tänak and Elfyn Evans ensured that all three of M-Sport’s top-specification Fiestas finished inside the top-six.
Proving to have the performance as well as the strength, the Fiesta led for 14 of the 19 stages and secured 10 stage victories courtesy of Ogier, Tänak, and privateer Mads Østberg.
Ogier, Tänak and Evans all secured points in the Power Stage and the team have increased their lead at the head of both FIA World Rally Championships.
With six events now under their belt, M-Sport has never failed to miss out on a podium result – Ogier, Tänak and Evans all contributing to the nine top-three results secured thus far.
Team Principal, Malcolm Wilson OBE, said:
“It’s been a fantastic weekend for the team. It’s great to secure the win, but it’s also great to see another strong performance from the entire team. All three of our crews have finished inside the top six, we’ve kept our clean-sweep of podiums intact, and we’ve also increased our lead at the head of both championships.
“You can image the team’s disappointment after losing the victory in Argentina, so to come here and take the win is fantastic. There’s been quite a bit of emotion in the service park, but we’ve got a great team of people and it’s because of their commitment that we’re in this position.
“There has been a lot of hard work over the past couple of weeks and I think we’ve taken a big step towards getting the Fiesta more to Sébastien’s liking. He and Julien felt really confident this weekend and they delivered an incredible drive to limit the time loss on Friday. From my point of view, that was their best drive of the year and where they made the difference.
“They have driven faultlessly all weekend and I know that this win means as much to them as it does to the team. We’ve still got some work to do, but we know that we can achieve success and we want more of it. The hard work doesn’t stop here, that is for sure.”
OGIER AND INGRASSIA
Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia may have secured their fifth Rally de Portugal victory this weekend, but this one carries special significance as their first in the north and their first behind the wheel of the Ford Fiesta WRC.
The victory also carries historic weight as the Frenchmen equal Markku Alén’s long-held record for the number of wins on Portuguese soil. Coincidentally, Alén secured his fifth victory on the 20th anniversary of this ever-popular event, Ogier securing his on the 50th.
Delivering a faultless drive, Ogier put in a sensational performance – limiting the time loss whilst opening the road and making a move with impressive pace through the cleaner conditions.
Securing five stage victories over the course of the weekend, the four-time World Champion took confidence from a good feeling with the Fiesta and secured victory with an advantage of 15.6 seconds.
With maximum points for the win and an additional point through the Power Stage, the Frenchman has also extended his lead at the head of the drivers’ standings.
SS16: 4th (+3.5)
SS18: 9th (+5.9)
SS19: 4th (+3.5)
Sébastien Ogier (1st) said:
“I’m delighted with this result. It’s been a hard fight until the end but I think everyone always enjoys winning like that. Honestly, when we did the recce, I didn’t think we would have a chance to challenge for the victory – and that makes this result an even prouder and happier one.
“Opening the road is always a challenge, but we had a really good run through Friday’s stages and that gave us a much better road position for the rest of the rally. On Saturday, I was back where I always prefer to be and posted the first or second fastest time though every stage.
“It was an intense fight with Ott through the first half of the rally. He had great pace all weekend and, even after his mistake, managed to score good points for the team.
“Everything feels good and I really must thank the team for all of their hard work. I’ve always said that rallying is a team effort and the car has been perfect all weekend. Everyone is putting in the maximum and they really deserve this victory.
“I’m happy that we could give back from our side with a strong performance. Actually, my number one mechanic and my engineer are Portuguese so I’m sure they are very proud to secure this one too!”
TÄNAK AND JÄRVEOJA
Ott Tänak and Martin Järveoja showed strong speed at this weekend’s Rally de Portugal – proving once again that a maiden FIA World Rally Championship victory is not far away.
Claiming three stage victories and posting top-five times through 16 of the event’s 19 stages, Tänak led the way at the mid-point – establishing a 6.5 second advantage before his hard work was undone through the first pass of Amarante (SS12).
Getting caught out under braking, the 29-year-old ran wide and impacted with a bank – damaging the suspension and losing the brakes.
The slightest of mistakes cost Tänak more than a minute to the leading pack and he fell to fifth where he was left with no option but to forgo his chance of challenging for the victory this weekend.
Back on the pace for the remaining speed tests, the Estonian soon climbed to fourth and took maximum points from the Power Stage to secure a strong haul of points for his championship campaign.
SS16: 2nd (+2.6)
SS17: 4th (+3.6)
SS18: 10th (+6.1)
Ott Tänak (4th) said:
“Generally, I think we can be pleased with our weekend. We made a mistake on Saturday which meant that we lost the chance to battle Seb for the victory, but we had good pace, good speed and a good feeling with the car.
“I think this was probably the best set-up that I have had all year. After every test we keep improving and we’ll have a two-day test next week to prepare for Sardinia where we hope to challenge for another strong result.
“This is traditionally the event where you see the true potential of the cars and, at the moment, it looks like we have a good package. For sure there are still some small improvements to be made, but it’s certainly looking promising.”
EVANS AND BARRITT
Elfyn Evans and Daniel Barritt secured their best result at Rally de Portugal this weekend, but the challenging terrain delivered something of a mixed bag for the British pairing – flashes of speed offset with challenges.
When feeling comfortable behind the wheel of his DMACK-shod Fiesta, Evans hinted at what was achievable – less than a second adrift of the stage victory on a number of occasions.
A puncture, an off-road excursion and a struggle with inconsistent grip levels dropped him down the order, but he regrouped to take sixth place and an additional three points from the Power Stage at the end of the rally.
SS16: 6th (+6.0)
SS17: 11th (+9.6)
SS18: 3rd (+3.4)
SS19: 3rd (+1.5)
Elfyn Evans (6th) said:
“It’s been a rally of ups and downs. It’s not been the perfect weekend, but there are plenty of good things to take away. It wasn’t ideal that we made the mistake on Saturday, but when the going was good, so was the speed and we have to take that positive forward.”
1. Sébastien Ogier / Julien Ingrassia (Ford Fiesta WRC) 33:6:15.1
2. Thierry Neuville / Nicolas Gilsoul (Hyundai 120 Coupe WRC) +15.6
3. Dani Sordo / Marc Marti (Hyundai 120 Coupe WRC) +1:01.7
4. Ott Tänak / Martin Järveoja (Ford Fiesta WRC) +1:30.2
5. Craig Breen / Scott Martin (Citroen C3 WRC) +1:57.4
6. Elfyn Evans / Daniel Barritt (Ford Fiesta WRC) +3:10.6
7. Juho Hänninen / Kaj Lindstrom (Toyota Yaris WRC) +3:48.9
8. Mads Østberg / Ola Fløene (Ford Fiesta WRC) +5:29.7
9. Jari-Matti Latvala / Mikka Anttila (Toyota Yaris WRC) +5:43.6
10. Esapekka Lappi / Janne Ferm (Toyota Yaris WRC) +8:13.3
1. Sébastien Ogier - 128
2. Thierry Neuville - 106
3. Jari-Matti Latvala - 88
4. Ott Tänak - 83
5. Dani Sordo - 66
6. Elfyn Evans - 53
7. Craig Breen - 43
8. Hayden Paddon - 33
9. Kris Meeke - 27
10. Juha Hänninen - 21
1. M-Sport World Rally Team - 199
2. Hyundai Motorsport - 173
3. Toyota Gazoo Racing WRC - 113
4. Citroen Total Abu Dhabi World Rally Team - 85