Fiesta S2000 crews fight for Mexican glory

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By Olivier Ferret

25 February 2011 - 12:57
Fiesta S2000 crews fight for Mexican

M-Sport’s new generation rally car – the Ford Fiesta S2000 – had a dream start in 2010 after it won the legendary Monte Carlo Rally on its debut event and the inaugural Super 2000 World Rally Championship (S-WRC) with Spain’s Xevi Pons at the wheel.

This year, the Fiesta S2000 returns to the S-WRC for what is hoped to be a second consecutive title win for the award-winning car. Next week’s Rally Mexico will mark the first event of the eight-round series where five S2000 cars will battle it out for the top spot.

Three Fiesta S2000 crews will be present in Mexico and returning for the second year is Czech driver Martin Prokop who finished third in last year’s championship. Prokop finished second at last year’s Rally Mexico and the 2009 J-WRC champion racked up an impressive six podium finishes throughout the year. The Czech is looking to return to this year’s series to fight for the S-WRC title.

Ott Tänak will also embark on his first WRC event of 2011 in an M-Sport run Fiesta S2000 next week and the young Estonian will pilot the exact car that assisted Pons in winning last year’s S-WRC title.

The 23-year-old made his debut in the WRC at 2009’s Rally Portugal and was part of the Pirelli Star Driving programme last year where he achieved a series of strong results including winning the Production Class in both Finland and Wales Rally GB. Tänak’s car will be run by his long-term mentor, Markko Märtin who won 2004’s Rally Mexico in the award-winning Ford Focus RS WRC.

Tänak has already tested the Fiesta S2000 in Estonia and competed in a rally in Latvia recently where he finished runner-up, less than one second behind the winning Focus RS WRC.

Recent Dakar Rally champion, Nasser Al Attiyah will also be fighting for S-WRC honours in Mexico next week. The Qatari driver has contested three rallies this year already and won all three events including the famous off-road and notoriously difficult Dakar Rally and Qatar International Rally. The 2006 P-WRC champion and six-time MERC champion will be looking to take full advantage of his experience driving the Fiesta S2000 in last year’s championship to challenge the other S-WRC contenders.

Ott Tänak said: “Mexico will be my first time competing in the Fiesta S2000 car at a WRC event and I’m really looking forward to the challenges that lie ahead. My objective is to gain experience, finish as many rallies as possible and to build up my speed on an event by event basis. The Fiesta S2000 was a real pleasure to drive in Latvia - fast with great balance and it was good to get some feeling of the car. Of course, I still have much to learn but I am lucky to have Markko [Märtin] and the MMM Team to support me. I have not contested Rally Mexico before but I’ve seen some onboard footage and I’m feeling quite relaxed. Kuldar Sikk [Tänak’s co-driver] and myself are 100% focused on getting the best results possible this season.”

Nasser Al Attiyah said: “I’ve been absolutely flat out this year already - this has been the first week I’ve actually spent at home to get some rest but I’m really looking forward to returning to the S-WRC for 2011. I’ve competed in three rallies so far this year including the Qatar International Rally in the Fiesta S2000 and I’ve won all three so I’ll be aiming for another victory next week. This will be my second time in Mexico so I have some experience of the stages which should definitely help – it is a very enjoyable rally and I think the stages suit my driving style nicely.”

Martin Prokop said: “I’m really looking forward to Mexico, it has been a good event for me in the past – I’ve been there a couple of times now so I know the stages well and I also finished second last year. It could be a big challenge to win next week as and Tänak, Al Attiyah and Hänninen are very strong drivers who have incredible pace but I think it will be a good fight. I’m really wanting to take the S-WRC title this year – I was so close in 2010 and I was very disappointed to lose out at my last event in France but I hope that 2011 will be my lucky year and that I can win the series.”

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