INTRODUCTION FROM M-SPORT MANAGING DIRECTOR, MALCOLM WILSON OBE
I hope some of you got a chance to watch the live footage of Rallye de France which was being broadcast online over the weekend. It was certainly an exciting weekend with 36 of the 64 cars as Ford entries and our special edition black liveried Ford Fiesta RS WRCs proved popular with drivers and fans alike.
I have to admit that a few weeks ago I didn't imagine that Mikko would have been leading the WRC alongside Sebastien Loeb. The team have done a tremendous job of turning the championship on its head and the scene is now set for an enthralling title fight with only two rallies left.
Of course it’s unfortunate to inherit a position due to another driver's misfortune [Petter Solberg was disqualified] but at this stage of the season every point counts. Both Mikko and Sebastien have 196 points each and the championship is well and truly open.
Jari-Matti’s performance was also very positive and helped eliminate any doubts about our asphalt pace. We made some set-up changes in the Ford Fiesta RS WRC after Germany which gave him confidence and he was fastest on five out of six stages on the event's closing day.
France was also a very positive result for our customer teams and I was delighted to see both Dennis Kuipers and Ken Block post their best ever WRC results after finishing fifth and eighth respectively. I was also pleased to see Dennis awarded with the Abu Dhabi Spirit of the Rally Award in France – it is a prize which is presented to those who have made an outstanding contribution or achievement for each rally and I think it is very apt that Dennis was presented with the prestigious award after his fantastic result.
Congratulations to Alastair Fisher who took his maiden win in the WRC Academy at the weekend but commiserations to Yerey Lemes who set some very competitive stage times. Alastair will also be heading up to IRC Rally Scotland at the weekend in an M-Sport run Ford Fiesta S2000 where we wish him the best of luck. I was also delighted to see Elfyn Evans finished 16th overall in a Ford Fiesta R2 marking the best ever finish for a Fiesta R2 in the WRC. Very well done to Elfyn!
In the S-WRC, Ford Fiesta S2000 driver Ott Tänak claimed his third, and second back-to-back, win of the season. He is now only three points behind championship leader Juho Hanninen which makes for an extremely exciting title fight in Spain later this month. With Tänak having won the previous two asphalt rounds in the S-WRC, I hope he can continue this trend to lead the Fiesta S2000 to its second S-WRC title.
Closer to home, we're hosting some media days at M-Sport this week where we have been giving some journalists a ride in the Ford Fiesta RS WRC in nearby Greystoke Forest. We've also done a photoshoot with our five Ford rally cars today - the Fiesta MS1, the Fiesta R2, Fiesta S2000, Fiesta RRC and the Fiesta RS WRC. We'll hopefully have a photo of the shoot for you in next month's newsletter.
I look forward to updating you again when the team arrive back from Spain later this month.