New challenge for M-Sport in Germany
M-Sport World Rally Team’s Elfyn Evans and Ott Tänak will face a new challenge next week as the 2015 Ford Fiesta RS WRC makes its asphalt debut at the ninth round of the FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) – ADAC Rallye Deutschland.
The new Ecoboost-powered Fiesta has already proven its pace on gravel and next week will see it let loose on the sealed-surface roads of the German Rhineland.
Both drivers were present at an extensive research and development test in the hills above Sanremo earlier this year, and the team are currently in the midst of a five-day, pre-event test – experiencing roads similar to those that give the German fixture one of the most intriguing routes of the year.
For many, Rallye Deutschland is considered three rallies in one. The character of the stages differ considerably – from twisting tracks through the Mosel vineyards, to the open roads of Saarland and the perilous ‘Hinkelstines’ that line the Baumholder military ground. It’s important to have the correct set-up for each variation, and the M-Sport team have focused on this.
Both drivers have historically performed well on asphalt and Evans in particular can boast an impressive track record from the Trier-based event.
The Welshman won the rally as part of the FIA WRC Academy in 2012 and was locked in an intense battle for the WRC 2 win in 2013 – trading the lead with Robert Kubica before conceding victory by just over 10 seconds.
In 2014 – his first season behind the wheel of a world rally car – he and co-driver Daniel Barritt produced a breakthrough performance. Out-performing a number of their more experienced rivals, the pairing secured a string of top-three stage times throughout the final day, including the sought-after Power Stage victory.
Last year’s impressive final-day performance saw Evans finish just 5 seconds adrift of the podium, and the Welshman will certainly have earmarked this year’s Rallye Deutschland to showcase his progression. Needless to say, the British duo has the potential to be knocking on the door of the podium once again.
In the sister M-Sport Fiesta RS WRC, Tänak may not have contested a pure asphalt event with the power and performance of a world rally car since 2012, but his previous performances mean he and co-driver Raigo Mõlder could also be a dark horse for next week’s podium positions.
The Estonian won the event as part of the S-WRC in 2011. Off the back of a number of impressive sealed-surface performances that year, he caught the eye of the Ford Motor Company and was elevated to the manufacturer squad for the 2011 edition of Rallye du Var.
Both drivers will have set their sights high for the ninth round of the WRC, and in true Rallye Deutschland fashion, anything is possible.
Elfyn Evans said:
“Rallye Deutschland is one of my favourite events and one that I look forward to year on year. We’ve had a lot of good results there in the past and we’ll be hoping to continue that trend next week.
“It’s a difficult rally, but I think that’s one of the reasons why I enjoy it so much. Unlike other events, the stages don’t have the same general characteristics. Some are fast and open, some are tight and twisty, and then there’s Panzerplatte which is unlike anything else on the calendar.
“There’s so much to consider – the weather, the road conditions, the stages themselves – and you really have to be at the top of your game to do well there. We’ve had two extensive tests in the lead-up – one in Sanremo and one currently on-going in Germany – so I’m feeling well prepared and can’t wait to get out there.
“We’ve not had the best of luck in the last few events, but this is where I want to turn that around. We’ll be looking for a clean and tidy rally in which we can show some good speed. If we can do that, anything is possible.”
Ott Tänak said:
“I’m really looking forward to seeing what we can do at Rallye Deutschland. I enjoy Tarmac rallying, but my last proper Tarmac event with a world rally car was at the end of 2012 so there will be a lot to learn.
“This is one of my favourite Tarmac rallies and we have done well in the past. Each stage is different so it’s a real test of how quickly you can adapt to the changing conditions. You also have to have a strong relationship with your gravel crew and the best up-to-date information from the stages and weather reports.
“We’re currently in the middle of an extensive pre-event test in which we’re trying to get a taste for as many of the different roads and conditions as possible. Set-up is very important here and we want to be as prepared as possible before the event.
“It’s one of those rallies where anything can happen and I’m really interested to see where our pace will be. It will be a challenging weekend, but I’m really looking forward to it.”
Team Principal, Malcolm Wilson OBE, said:
“At the start of the year, our strategy was to start targeting podiums in the second half of the season and Rallye Deutschland is certainly an event we have set our sights on. As the first asphalt event with the new car, there is an element of the unknown but our Tarmac test programme has been extremely encouraging.
“Both drivers have historically performed well in Germany. Elfyn [Evans] proved just how competitive he could be last year and, although he has not competitively driven a world rally car on pure asphalt since 2012, Ott [Tänak] also has the potential to perform strongly.
“The entire team is highly motivated ahead of this event and we’re looking forward to seeing what rewards the pace of Elfyn, Ott and the new car can produce on Tarmac.”
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