M-Sport’s fleet of Ecoboost-powered Ford Fiesta WRCs will be let loose at incredible speeds next week when the FIA World Rally Championship returns to Poland for what is one of the most action-packed and adrenaline-fuelled events on the calendar.
Sébastien Ogier, Ott Tänak and Elfyn Evans made their preparations for this fast-paced encounter in Estonia. Also famed for their high-speed gravel, the Estonian roads provided the perfect training ground for the team – allowing the crews to get accustomed to the pace whilst perfecting set-ups on roads representative of the Polish rally.
Testing in Estonia also allowed the team to take advantage of the country’s wide-reaching 4G coverage – activating two live streams from inside the test car. This first for M-Sport provided fans with an opportunity to ride live onboard the Fiesta and attracted more than 260,000 views.
With an impressive string of results so far this season, the Fiesta has secured 10 podiums and three victories from the opening seven rallies. Never failing to finish lower than second overall, the team feel prepared to continue their strong form on Polish soil.
RALLY POLAND: HIGH-SPEED ACTION
Based in the beautiful Masurian Lake District, the Orlen 74th Rally Poland is one of the fastest events of the year and a highlight for teams, crews and spectators alike.
Contested on sandy roads that traverse the picturesque countryside, the crews will tackle 326.64 competitive kilometres over 23 incredibly fast speed tests.
Poland favours the brave, and those with the confidence to push are never far from the top step of the podium.
At these speeds, even the slightest of hesitations can cost valuable time – time that is hard to regain when the pace is as relentless as it will be next week.
A mistake free drive is a vital step to victory, but that is easier said than done. Tall grasses line a number of sections – limiting visibility on the approach to corners and making cutting a risky business.
A clean run combined with a fully committed drive is the key to success, and that is what the crews will be keen to deliver.
Team Principal Malcolm Wilson is looking forward to seeing the Ford Fiesta WRCs let loose on Poland’s super-fast stages and hoping to continue M-Sport’s successful season.
Team Principal, Malcolm Wilson OBE, said:
“Rally Poland is an event that everyone looks forward to – it’s the first of two back-to-back high-speed events and is a firm favourite on the calendar.
“We’re in for a treat next week and, personally, I can’t wait to see these spectacular new cars let loose on Poland’s incredibly fast stages.
“We had a good test in Estonia and all three drivers came away happy so there is no reason why we shouldn’t be aiming high.
“As always, the podium is our objective and the whole team will be working to continue what has been a fantastic start to the season.”
OGIER AND INGRASSIA
Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia have good memories from Rally Poland having claimed victory there on two previous occasions; but last year saw the pairing hindered by road sweeping – something that the championship leaders will be keen to limit this time around.
Having secured a good test in Estonia, Ogier is ready to push and will be keen to improve on his sixth place finish from last year – as well as continuing his untarnished string of top-five finishes which is something no other competitor can match this season.
Previous starts: 4
Best result: 1st (2014 and 2015)
Sébastien Ogier said:
“Rally Poland is an event that every driver looks forward to. The pace is incredible and the fast roads give an amazing sense of adrenaline that will only be magnified by the new cars this year.
“I have good memories from Poland having won there twice before, but last year it was probably the worst event for me in terms of road cleaning.
“Leading the championship is exactly where we wanted to be at this point in the season, but if it’s dry that will provide something of a disadvantage on Friday and we’ll need to work hard to limit the time loss.
“It’s so hard to claw back time here, but let’s see what we can do. We had a good test in Estonia where we found a good feeling with the car – that bodes well and we’re ready to push and give it our all.
“Maintaining our lead in the championship is the top priority, and extending it would be a good weekend.”
TÄNAK AND JÄRVEOJA
Fresh from victory at Rally Italia Sardegna, the pressure is off Ott Tänak as he travels to one of his favourite and most successful events of the year – Rally Poland.
The Estonian has a good track record at the event. Having secured the WRC2 victory on his debut there in 2014, Tänak went on to secure podium finishes at his next two encounters – third in 2015 and second in 2016.
On both occasions the victory was in his grasp and, following a positive test on home soil, he and co-driver Martin Järveoja will be hoping to fight for the top step once again next week.
Previous starts: 3
Best result: 2nd (2016)
Ott Tänak said:
“Everyone knows that Rally Poland is one of my favourite events. The stages are so fast and flowing, and that’s something that I really enjoy. I grew up on roads like this in Estonia, and this year will be even more of an adrenaline rush with the new cars – I can’t wait!
“This is a real drivers’ rally. The speeds are incredible and you have to be full of confidence. The pacenotes have to be perfect and the smallest of hesitations can cost you speed and time – something which is very hard to get back on these fast roads.
“I’m sure a lot of people will be looking at us as we’ve done very well here in the past, but let’s see what happens. We won’t have the best road position as the third car on the road, but we had a good test in Estonia and we’re feeling fairly positive.
“We’ve got a good feeling with the car and I’m sure that we’ll enjoy every second of this rally whatever the outcome. The podium always has to be our minimum goal, so bring it on!”
EVANS AND BARRITT
Elfyn Evans and Daniel Barritt will be looking for a strong result when the FIA World Rally Championship returns to Rally Poland next week.
Having completed a comprehensive test in Estonia, the Welshman took confidence from a number of different conditions that were representative of the rally and will be keen to deliver his best performance on Polish soil.
Previous starts: 3
Best result: 13th (2016)
Elfyn Evans said:
“I’m really looking forward to Rally Poland. It’s fair to say that Sardinia didn’t quite go to plan, but we’ve regrouped and can hopefully secure another good result next week.
“The stages in Poland are incredibly fast and confidence is everything. We tested in Estonia last week where we found a good set-up and that has been a big positive boost for the rally.
“The test road was really representative and we got a lot of kilometres under our belt in a lot of different conditions, so we’re feeling pretty well prepared.
“I’m looking forward to this one, as I’m sure a lot of drivers will be! It’s such an adrenaline rush and a real highlight on the calendar.”