Highs and lows for M-Sport in Germany
M-Sport World Rally Team’s Elfyn Evans and Ott Tänak remain well within the top-ten as this weekend’s Rallye Deutschland continued into the second day of competition.
In a day of highs and lows for the M-Sport team, the Ford Fiesta RS WRC drivers currently hold sixth and eighth places respectively – within touching distance of another solid points haul.
Evans and co-driver Daniel Barritt got off to a flying start. Posting the second fastest time through the opening speed test, the pairing proved the pace the new Ecoboost-powered Fiesta has to offer on asphalt.
The stage is a favourite of the Welshman as it formed last year’s points-paying Power Stage and played host to his first FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) stage win. It provided similar success for the M-Sport man this year as he was the only man to get close to rally-leader Sebastien Ogier through the first pass – finishing just 0.7 seconds adrift of the world champion.
But as the sun rose over some of Germany’s most famous speed tests, Evans struggled to maximise the available grip in the uncharacteristic heat of this year’s Central European summer.
Despite his frustrations at not being able to post the times he knew he was capable of, the Welshman kept his head – defending his position and remaining on course to challenge for good points through tomorrow’s final stages.
In the sister M-Sport Fiesta, it was a steady start for Tänak and co-driver Raigo Mõlder who focused on perfecting their notes and set-up for a bigger push over the second pass.
Adopting a new set-up for the afternoon loop, the Estonians were able to increase their pace – setting the fourth fastest time through the second pass of Grafschaft (SS14).
Unfortunately, they went off the road 12 kilometres into the second pass of Panzerplatte Long (SS16) – losing over a minute to their rivals and conceding what was a strong seventh place.
Elfyn Evans (6th) said:
“There was a big positive this morning when we set such a strong time on the first stage [SS9] so obviously it’s very frustrating that we weren’t able to continue that throughout the day.
“I know that we’re better than this afternoon’s times – we proved that this morning – so we need to work hard to understand why we weren’t able to continue that same pace.
“We need to make a change. We need to start tomorrow as we did today, and ensure we keep it going throughout the day.”
Ott Tänak (8th) said:
“We were struggling with the set-up throughout this morning’s stages and I didn’t have a good feeling in the car. This afternoon, we decided to make quite a few changes – it was a lot faster to drive and we were definitely improving.
“I was trying to push closer to the limit and improve the speed but in one place I pushed too much and we understeered off the road. Luckily we didn’t have any damage, but we struggled to get the car restarted and it took us a long time to get going again.”
Team Principal, Malcolm Wilson OBE, said:
“We didn’t have the right set-up for the longest stage of the rally [SS13 and SS16]. We tested there [in Baumholder], but clearly didn’t find the optimum performance from the new car.
“It’s been a big learning curve for the team today, but the drivers and engineers have spent a lot of time studying all of the data and we’re confident that we can be competitive tomorrow.
“We know that the speed and the potential of both the car and the crews is there – that’s clear from the stunning time Elfyn [Evans] was able to set through the first stage of the day [SS9]. Unfortunately, we just haven’t been able to make the progress we should have done today.”
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