M-Sport Ford World Rally Team has experienced another challenging day at Rally Sweden. Yesterday’s fresh snow may have made for a fantastic fight at the front, but it was bad news for the Cumbrian squad whose strong performance at the previous round had them clearing the snow for the cars behind.
Despite the disappointment, the team have not lost heart. When the conditions were at their most consistent, the EcoBoost-powered Ford Fiesta WRC had the pace and hinted at what could have been were the weather on side.
Team Principal, Malcolm Wilson OBE, said:
“It’s been a better day, but we’re still nowhere near where we wanted to be. The damage was already done, but at least we showed some good speed on occasion today. You can imagine the disappointment in the team seeing the times from yesterday, so it was nice to see that the pace is there when the conditions are more consistent. Tomorrow, we just need to make sure we get to the end, and at least we’ll have a better road position in Mexico!”
SUNINEN AND MARKKULA
Teemu Suninen and Mikko Markkula made a great start to Rally Sweden – their EcoBoost-powered Ford Fiesta WRC sitting less than 30 seconds adrift of the lead yesterday evening. But as today’s action got underway, his more experienced rivals had the upper hand.
The young Finn might have had much to discover over the opening loop, but he remains a notoriously fast learner. Analysing his morning’s performance, Suninen put all he had learnt into practice and displayed a considerable improvement over the second pass – something he and Markkula will be keen to continue tomorrow.
SS9: 11th (+21.8)
SS10: 12th (+36.0)
SS11: 12th (+12.5)
SS12: 9th (+16.0)
SS13: 7th (+23.3)
SS14: 8th (+15.3)
SS15: 11th (+2.7)
SS16: 6th (+2.5)
Teemu Suninen (8th) said:
“I tried to change my driving style a bit this morning but it didn’t work out so well. The afternoon was better, but we still have some more to learn before we can be on the pace of the guys at the front. The main thing for us is to drive cleanly and get the experience, and there are still three more stages where we need to keep doing that tomorrow.”
OGIER AND INGRASSIA
Leading the championship is exactly where Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia want to be, but it comes with a price. The pairing knew that fresh snow fall would severely damage their hopes of challenging for a strong result this weekend, and fresh snow fall was exactly what they got.
The stages may have looked spectacular, but it was bad news for the World Champions as their EcoBoost-powered Ford Fiesta WRC acted as a snow plough for the cars behind. The pairing continued to open the road today, but were able to show what they would have been capable of had the weather not turned against them.
The conditions were at their most consistent through the first pass of Vargåsen (SS11). Ogier still had a handicap, but it was not as severe. Enjoying one of the FIA World Rally Championship’s most popular speed tests, he posted the third fastest time to prove what could have been.
SS9: 10th (+18.6)
SS10: 9th (+11.6)
SS11: 3rd (+1.2)
SS12: 12th (+29.3)
SS13: 9th (+30.7)
SS14: 10th (+20.3)
SS15: 4th (+0.8)
SS16: 7th (+2.8)
Sébastien Ogier (10th) said:
“We can be satisfied with what we’ve done in the car today as we’ve made no mistakes and driven pretty cleanly all day. I tried to be as fast as I could with the conditions I had, but that’s all we could do from this position on the road.
“If you have a look at the top-three in the championship and where they are this weekend, it’s clear that none of us had a chance. There’s nothing wrong with the cars, it’s just that in these conditions it is impossible to compensate as the disadvantage is too big.”
EVANS AND BARRITT
Elfyn Evans and Daniel Barritt have endured another difficult day at Rally Sweden. Having lost more than a minute to the leading pack with a puncture through yesterday’s stages, the luckless Brits were at a disadvantage today as one of the first cars on the road.
Despite struggling with the balance of his EcoBoost-powered Ford Fiesta WRC, Evans has kept his head down and will already have one eye on Rally Mexico – where the roles will be reversed and he will have an opportunity to benefit from a more advantageous road position.
SS9: 12th (+22.6)
SS10: 10th (+17.9)
SS11: 11th (+9.9)
SS12: 11th (+25.8)
SS13: 10th (+45.5)
SS14: 11th (+24.4)
SS15: 9th (+1.9)
SS16: 9th (+3.6)
Elfyn Evans (11th) said:
“It’s been a pretty tough weekend for us and it wouldn’t go amiss to salvage some Power Stage points tomorrow. Our road position won’t make it easy as the stages are getting faster and faster with every car, but we’ll give it our best shot.”
1. Thierry Neuville / Nicolas Gilsoul (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC) 2:23:23.8
2. Craig Breen / Scott Martin (Citroen C3 WRC) +22.7
3. Andreas Mikkelsen / Anders Jaeger (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC) +32.0
4. Hayden Paddon / Sebastian Marshall (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC) +48.6
5. Mads Østberg / Torstein Eriksen (Citroen C3 WRC) +56.8
6. Esapekka Lapp / Janne Ferme (Toyota Yaris WRC) +1:05.8
7. Jari-Matti Latvala / Miikka Anttila (Toyota Yaris WRC) +2:03.3
8. Teemu Suninen / Mikko Markkula (Ford Fiesta WRC) +2:20.5
9. Ott Tänak / Martin Järveoja (Toyota Yaris WRC) +3:41.3
10. Sébastien Ogier / Julien Ingrassia (Ford Fiesta WRC) +4:24.9
11. Elfyn Evans / Daniel Barritt (Ford Fiesta WRC) +4:53.7