M-Sport Ford World Rally Team’s Sébastien Ogier, Elfyn Evans and Teemu Suninen will be back in action when the FIA World Rally Championship returns this week – their EcoBoost-powered Ford Fiesta WRCs ready to tackle the gravel stages of Rally Argentina.
Making a full recovery from the mild concussion suffered at Rally Mexico, co-driver Daniel Barritt is making a welcome return to the squad – the Lancastrian’s distinctive accent calling the notes for Evans once more.
With the Brits missing out on victory by a mere 0.7 seconds last year – and all three Fiestas finishing in the overall top-four – the team have proven performance in Argentina and are confident of securing another strong result this year.
With testing on location prohibited for long-haul events, M-Sport Ford used their time wisely – focusing their efforts on a comprehensive development test in Portugal and targeting another improved performance on gravel.
With the Fiesta winning three of the four events contested so far, the Cumbrians are also in with a chance of securing an impressive statistic.
The new-generation world rally cars have contested 17 events since launching last year, and the Fiesta has claimed eight victories – claim the top step of the podium again this week, and the Blue Oval will be able to hold 50 percent of the available wins to its badge.
ACTION AND ATMOSPHERE
Rally Argentina delivers action and atmosphere in abundance – the country’s passion for motorsport making the event a special fixture on the FIA World Rally Championship calendar.
Based in the lakeside resort of Carlos Villa Paz, the Argentine event provides some of the year’s most demanding gravel stages with a route that delivers a vast variation of challenging terrain.
From the soft, sandy roads in the Calamuchita Valley, to the rocky, narrow tracks through the Traslasierra mountains, the crews must master each change in rhythm.
The contrasting characteristics demand quick thinking and an ability to adapt driving styles whilst traversing the pampas plains, rugged mountains and moonlike vistas that the event has become famed for.
Rally-ending rocks line the stages and the early autumn weather means that the crews will often have to battle the elements as well as the stopwatch.
Thunderstorms and fog are not uncommon and those with the most confidence in their pacenotes will often prosper though the challenging conditions.
Make no mistake, a victory in Argentina will be hard fought by whoever comes out on top, and admired by all who fall short of the mark.
Not since 2002 has Malcolm Wilson’s team secured victory at Rally Argentina. Having claimed three out of the four wins on offer so far this year, the Ford Fiesta WRC is looking stronger than ever and Wilson is keen to see his team prosper on Argentine soil once more.
Team Principal, Malcolm Wilson OBE, said:
“It’s been a long time since we’ve secured a win in Argentina, and that’s something we’d all love to achieve this week. We’ve had a fantastic start to the season, but we know how strong the competition is and the whole team is working hard to ensure another strong result – something all three of our drivers are capable of delivering.
“This remains the only event that Sébastien and Julien are yet to win. They want to add this accolade to their long list of achievements and, knowing the form that they’re in at the moment; they’re in with a chance of doing it. They won’t have an easy run opening the road on Friday, but they can never be discounted – even when the odds are stacked against them.
“It’s great to see Dan fully recovered and reunited with Elfyn on an event they came so close to winning last year. They both really enjoy this event and have gone extremely well here in the past. They’re in need of a strong result to kick-start their championship campaign, and I’m confident they can do that.
“Teemu too is in with a chance. This is his first time in Argentina so he will have a lot to learn, but we know how quickly he does that. This is an event of attrition and a clever drive can so often deliver results – something Teemu and Mikko are more than capable of this week.”