M-Sport hold position in Argentina
"Mads is still not where we would expect him to be"
M-Sport World Rally Team’s Mads Østberg and Éric Camilli held position during the second day of competition at Rally Argentina – the two Ecoboost-powered Ford Fiesta RS WRCs in fifth and ninth places respectively.
Driving well, Østberg and co-driver Ola Fløene set some encouraging split times over the morning loop – twice bettering that of World Champion Sebastien Ogier who was also disadvantaged by an early road position.
But despite pushing to his maximum, the Norwegian’s overall stage times did not reflect the speed he is capable of. With Østberg unable to match the times of his rivals nor those of fellow Fiesta RS WRC driver Ott Tänak, the team will work with him to understand the issues and find a solution.
In the sister M-Sport Fiesta RS WRC, Camilli was under strict instruction to complete all of the stages.
Having the measure of his vastly more experienced team mate through two of yesterday’s speed tests, the Frenchman continued his progression today – discovering the level that is required to attack the Argentine stages at full speed.
Gaining a wealth of knowledge and experience, the rookie will be well-placed to continue his development as the season continues.
In the WRC 2 category, luck was not on Elfyn Evans side this weekend. Returning under Rally 2 regulations, the Welshman suffered two separate punctures over the day’s six stages.
When they had a trouble-free run, he and co-driver Craig Parry were untouchable and regularly posted times half a minute faster than their rivals.
With three of the season’s most difficult stages left to contest, there is still all to play for and the Welshmen will be out to secure as many championship points as possible.
Mads Østberg (5th) said:
“This morning we were pushing really hard but we didn’t select the fastest tyre choice for the second pass. We were on the limit this morning but I haven’t pushed to the same extent this afternoon as the risk was too high. We managed to get through the stages with no issues and that is the most important thing for the moment.”
Éric Camilli (9th) said:
“We managed to improve our times this afternoon and were quite close to Mads which was good. We were really close to him on the last stage and that shows that we have improved a lot.
“I understand that sometimes I have to drive a long way off the pace as it’s important to learn these difficult stages. This morning we were doing a high-speed recce and we were two maybe three seconds per kilometre off the pace, but this afternoon we were just a second adrift.
“We can do more but we need to be patient. Things are progressing and if we can continue like this then I think things can be very good in the future.”
Elfyn Evans (5th WRC 2 / Rally 2) said:
“It’s been a testing weekend, but when we’ve had no issues the speed has been pretty good. This is Argentina and it’s certainly not over until it’s over so we need to remember that tomorrow. I swore that I wasn’t going to just drive around this year so that is going against the grain somewhat, but we have to put our sensible hat on and make sure we get the car to the end.”
Team Principal, Malcolm Wilson OBE, said:
“Mads is still not where we would expect him to be. He has set some encouraging splits, but his overall stage times are a long way off what we wanted and we need to understand why he has been unable to match the speed of his rivals, or his fellow Fiesta driver Ott Tänak.
“Eric is continuing what was asked of him and was under strict instruction to finish all of the stages. He’s learning a lot, and it is important for him to continue at this level so as to head back to Europe on a positive.
“Luck has not been on Elfyn’s side, but when he’s had a trouble-free run he’s set some very impressive times which proves what he could have achieved this weekend.”
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