M-Sport well-placed to challenge
M-Sport World Rally Team’s Elfyn Evans and Ott Tänak are well-placed to challenge for the top-positions as Rallye Deutschland continues into the weekend. The Ford Fiesta RS WRC drivers currently hold sixth and seventh place after a challenging opener to the ninth round of the FIA World Rally Championship (WRC).
Running as the seventh and eighth cars on the road, there were plenty of surprises for the pair to negotiate. Their expert gravel crews provide them with a wealth of information about how the conditions have changed since the pre-event reconnaissance, but with six cars ahead of them, dirt and gravel can be pulled into the most unlikely of places – making the going tough and the route treacherous.
Having a good record at the German fixture, Evans knows this better than most. The Welshman struggled with the grip levels throughout much of the morning but refused to let his frustration deter him from the prospect of a good result.
The M-Sport man admitted to over-driving though the opening speed tests, but he and co-driver Daniel Barritt remained focused on the task in hand. Regrouping for the final stage (SS8), he set the fourth fastest time which made him one of only two drivers to split the pace-setting Volkswagens.
With 238.13 kilometres left to run, there remains all to play for and Evans is well aware of the rewards this event can provide when given the appropriate respect.
Having not driven a world rally car in Germany for the past three years, Tänak was quickly reminded of the consideration these stages deserve. The Estonian was caught out by an unexpected patch of gravel through the first speed test which launched his Fiesta through a fence, into a field, back onto the road and into a barrier.
Despite losing time to his rivals, he and co-driver Raigo Mõlder regrouped with great intelligence. Rebuilding his confidence and increasing the speed with each new kilometre, Tänak holds seventh place and is starting to prove that he can be just as formidable on asphalt as he is on gravel.
As the action reconvenes tomorrow, the M-Sport pairing will be focused on more of the same – a clean and tidy run which sees them make good on their potential whilst climbing the overall standings.
Elfyn Evans (6th) said:
“The day has been a bit up and down for us but that last stage [SS8] was a lot more like it. I found a better feeling in the car and was able to relax. I actually pushed a bit less and the time was much better.
“I think it’s been a case of over-driving at some points. When we reined it in, the time was pretty much where we were expecting and wanting to be. We’ve got a long and difficult day of rallying ahead of us, so we need to try and carry that forward to tomorrow.”
Ott Tänak (7th) said:
“This afternoon was a lot better than the morning. The feeling was quite good and we had a much better rhythm out on the stages. We made some changes during the service which perhaps weren’t in the right direction, but now we know where we can improve.
“I’ve really enjoyed being back on Tarmac with a world rally car and I can feel the confidence and the speed building with each new kilometre. We have a good base to build on for tomorrow, and hopefully we can continue to improve as we have today.”
Team Principal, Malcolm Wilson OBE, said:
“We’ve seen some encouraging performances from both drivers, so it’s a shame that we haven’t been able to string those together over the course of the day. Having said that, both were extremely relaxed this evening. They’ve been able to perfect the set-up and are looking forward to tomorrow when there’s a good chance of us mounting a challenge for one of the top positions.”
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