M-Sport Ford World Rally Team’s EcoBoost-powered Ford Fiesta WRC had the pace to win this weekend’s Rally Turkey, but it wasn’t to be – a rare mistake preventing Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia from claiming the victory and retaking the lead of the FIA World Rally Championship.
Despite the disappointment, the entire squad pulled together and were applauded for being the embodiment of teamwork. The Cumbrians will also take encouragement from the performance of their young protégée Teemu Suninen who impressed once again – overcoming his youth and inexperience to claim a fantastic fourth place overall.
Team Principal, Malcolm Wilson OBE, said:
“It’s been a frustrating rally as we know that we’ve missed an opportunity this weekend. Sébastien had the pace to win which would have seen him retake the lead of the championship, but a rare mistake meant that it wasn’t to be.
“I can’t remember the last time the competition was this close – and it really is all to play for over the final three rounds. It’s fantastic for the sport and the whole team will continue to push for the best possible result at the end of the year.
“Teemu delivered another absolutely sensational performance this weekend and I have no doubt whatsoever that we’ll see him challenging for championships in the future. It was a great drive from someone of his age and experience, and the perfect job for the team.
“Elfyn might have had his fair share of bad luck on Friday, but he came back fighting with good speed and proved what a strong team player he is too.”
SUNINEN AND MARKKULA
Teemu Suninen and Mikko Markkula delivered another impressive performance this weekend – securing a highly commendable fourth place overall at Rally Turkey.
Tackling what is undoubtedly the roughest gravel rally of his career, Suninen showed once again what a notoriously quick learner he is.
Discovering the right rhythm for the intensely difficult stages, the young Finn also showed flashes of speed that outweighed his limited experience.
Opening the road throughout the weekend, Suninen had to contend with the worst of the loose gravel but it was good practice for the day he might find himself leading the championship.
And if this weekend’s performance is anything to go by, that day won’t be too far away!
SS14: 11th (+18.0)
SS15: 8th (+16.3)
SS16: 8th (+22.0)
SS17: 8th (+12.5)
Teemu Suninen (4th) said:
“This was definitely the roughest rally I have ever done so to finish fourth is a great result for me. It’s the second best result of my career, and I can be happy with that. It was also nice to reward the team with some good points because they all really deserved that this weekend.
“On Friday we set a really good time on the long stage [SS5] and it was positive to see that we were only two seconds away from the fastest time. Saturday was really difficult with all the loose gravel and honestly I couldn’t do much more with all the wheelspin – but I hope that will be good practice for the future!”
OGIER AND INGRASSIA
Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia missed a golden opportunity this weekend. Victory was twice within their grasp, but the World Champions were denied by a rare and costly mistake.
The Frenchmen were on course to deliver a comeback of epic proportions. Having taken the lead on the first stage of Saturday morning (SS8), drama ensued when they completed the following speed test (SS9) with damage to the suspension of their Fiesta.
With one stage left to contest before service, it was a race against time to affect a temporary repair on the side of the road. The Frenchmen got to work and two of the championship’s most skilled mechanics stopped to offer advice – team mate Elfyn Evans as well as lovable rogue Henning Solberg.
Ogier too is a skilled technician and proved the effectiveness of his repair by setting the fastest time through the stage! Returning to service, the M-Sport mechanics did what they do best – showing once again why they are the best in the business.
Changing the transmission and full front suspension in just 30 minutes, Ogier and Ingrassia were back out for the afternoon loop – albeit in fourth place 46.1 seconds adrift of the lead. But their performance was at such a level that they looked set to retake the lead on that very first stage.
Alas it wasn’t to be, and all of the hard work was undone by the rarest of mistakes. Mishearing a pacenote, the Frenchman slid wide – his Fiesta stuck off the road along with all hope of an extraordinary victory.
Completing the event in tenth place, Ogier also secured an additional four points from the Power Stage. The Frenchman has fallen to third place in the championship, but there remains all to play for as he remains just 23 points shy of retaining his crown.
SS14: 3rd (+4.9)
SS17: 2nd (+3.8)
Sébastien Ogier (10th) said:
“It’s been a frustrating weekend, but that’s part of the game and we have to accept it. I gave it everything I had this weekend and did everything I possibly could without reward. At least we secured some points at the end of the rally and hopefully we will get some rewards soon! It’s definitely a three-way fight for the title now, and it’s still all to play for.”
EVANS AND BARRITT
Elfyn Evans and Daniel Barritt had to endure their fair share of bad luck at Rally Turkey, but the luckless Brits fought back admirably and displayed incredible team spirit throughout the entire weekend.
When Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia were stopped on the side of the road with a broken wishbone, Evans and Barritt came to their aid with advice and encouragement.
The Welshman is one of the most skilled technicians in the service park, and when all available mechanics were needed to work on Ogier’s car, he and Barritt even serviced their own – Evans helping to change the wishbone and his co-driver adjusting the ride height.
Recovering from Friday’s retirement, the pairing showed great speed and had climbed back up to seventh place overall before demonstrating their dedication to the team once again.
Checking into the penultimate stage five minutes early, they incurred a five minute penalty to give team mate Ogier an additional championship point that could prove vital at the end of the season.
SS14: 4th (+7.1)
SS15: 5th (+11.1)
SS16: 5th (+14.0)
SS17: 5th (+7.9)
Elfyn Evans (12th) said:
“It was a frustrating Friday with a lot of different issues which eventually resulted in retirement when striking a rock on the line which couldn’t be avoided. We had a pretty solid day on Saturday and were able to show good pace whilst keeping out of trouble. But today we had to drop time and assist Sébastien with his championship defence.”
1. Ott Tänak / Martin Järveoja (Toyota Yaris WRC) 3:59:24.5
2. Jari-Matti Latvala / Miikka Anttila (Toyota Yaris WRC) +22.3
3. Hayden Paddon / Sebastian Marshal (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC) +1:46.3
4. Teemu Suninen / Mikko Markkula (Ford Fiesta WRC) +4:10.9
5. Andreas Mikkelsen / Anders Jaeger (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC) +7:11.7
10. Sébastien Ogier / Julien Ingrassia (Ford Fiesta WRC) +20:51.2
12. Elfyn Evans / Daniel Barritt (Ford Fiesta WRC) +22:09.0
1. Thierry Neuville - 177
2. Ott Tänak - 164
3. Sébastien Ogier - 154
4. Esapekka Lappi - 88
5. Andreas Mikkelsen - 75
6. Jari-Matti Latvala - 75
7. Dani Sordo - 60
8. Teemu Suninen - 54
9. Elfyn Evans - 53
10. Hayden Paddon - 49
1. Toyota Gazoo Racing WRC - 284
2. Hyundai Motorsport - 279
3. M-Sport Ford World Rally Team - 244
4. Citroen Total Abu Dhabi World Rally Team - 169