Tänak tames Tarragona

Rally España


By Olivier Ferret

23 October 2015 - 22:05
Tänak tames Tarragona

Having challenged for the lead of RallyRACC Catalunya – Costa Daurada, M-Sport World Rally Team’s Ott Tänak and Raigo Mõlder currently hold third position on the penultimate round of the FIA World Rally Championship (WRC).

With their Ecoboost-powered Ford Fiesta RS WRC returned to its loose-surface set-up, Tänak and Mõlder demonstrated the blistering pace they are capable of on gravel. Claiming more stage wins than any other crew, the pairing came tantalisingly close to leading their second rally of the year – just 0.9 seconds adrift of the top-spot on two separate occasions.

The Estonian claimed three stage victories and was never outside of the top four during each of the day’s eight speed tests. Proving how formidable he and the new Fiesta RS WRC have become, he is in a strong position ahead of tomorrow’s turn to Tarmac.

The M-Sport driver has previous form on circuit-like asphalt and he’ll be looking to prove that once his Fiesta is converted into its asphalt guise for tomorrow’s super-smooth stages.

In the sister M-Sport Fiesta RS WRC, Elfyn Evans and co-driver Daniel Barritt put the ghosts of the championship’s last loose-surface event well and truly behind them.

Showing a marked improvement from the previous gravel outing in Australia, Evans proved that the hard work put in by him and the team was paying dividends – the Welshman outperforming his nearest championship rivals throughout much of the morning.

Admitting to being overly cautious through the second pass, Evans may have lost out to Meeke and Neuville, but he’ll be keen to put that right tomorrow – proving what he can do when his Fiesta is lowered for the Spanish Tarmac.

In an extended evening service, M-Sport’s expert team of technicians and engineers converted each of the Fiesta RS WRCs from gravel to Tarmac specification – changing the front and rear suspension and geometry, front and rear sub-frames, gearbox, rear differential, steering rack and brakes as well as reducing the underbody protection and adjusting the ballast.

Ott Tänak (3rd) said:

“I think we have had a really good day. I knew that it was going to be a case of getting into the right mind set from the beginning and that’s what we did. We were just thinking about giving it a big push and doing our best. We did that and that’s the only way to get the good times.

“Of course I think everyone knows that I prefer gravel to Tarmac, but I also really like the Tarmac roads here in Spain. They’re really smooth and flowing and fast so I am looking forward to the next two days.

“It will be a strange feeling on the first stage after a full day of gravel, but we are here and we want to push. I really hope that we can surprise a few people tomorrow as well.”

Elfyn Evans (10th) said:

“It’s fair to say that this wasn’t the result we wanted at the end of the day, but I think our performance was actually better than the result suggests – especially over the morning loop when we were able to keep both Kris [Meeke] and Thierry [Neuville] behind us.

“The gaps aren’t too big and, if we can continue the progress we’ve already shown on Tarmac, a strong result is still within our grasp.

“Of course it would have been nice to have been a little higher up the leader board and to have shown a little more progress over the afternoon; but I just lacked the edge and didn’t push hard enough or take enough risks.

“Kris and Thierry have eked out a little advantage now, but I’m certainly not going to make it an easy day for them tomorrow. I think we’ve made a step forward on gravel, and I’m looking forward to the Tarmac stages and to hopefully making my way up the leader board.”

Team Principal, Malcolm Wilson OBE, said:

“We’ve seen one of our best performances of the year today. Ott [Tänak] has challenged for the lead – just as Elfyn [Evans] did in Corsica – and the Ford Fiesta RS WRC secured four stage wins thanks to Ott and Robert [Kubica] which is more than any other manufacturer.

“It’s great to see Ott back on form after the difficulties he faced in Corsica. It shows a lot when a driver is able to bounce back so strongly and that is exactly what he has done today. The real test comes tomorrow when the event turns to Tarmac, but the roads in Spain are fast and flowing which should suit him a lot better.

“It was a difficult day for Elfyn and I know that he didn’t want to end the day in tenth position. But in reality, the position doesn’t reflect the improvement he has made since last time out on gravel – especially over the morning loop. When we return to Tarmac tomorrow I’m confident that he’ll be able to reclaim a number of places.”


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