M-Sport: Fired up and ready to fly at Rally Finland

Despite three victories and an unbroken record of podium finishes, the team are hungry for more.

M-Sport: Fired up and ready to fly at Rally Finland
Elfyn Evans, Daniel Barritt, Ford Fiesta WRC, M-Sport
Sébastien Ogier, M-Sport
Ott Tänak, Martin Järveoja, Ford Fiesta WRC, M-Sport
Sébastien Ogier, Julien Ingrassia, Ford Fiesta WRC, M-Sport
Sébastien Ogier, Julien Ingrassia, Ford Fiesta WRC, M-Sport
Elfyn Evans, Daniel Barritt, Ford Fiesta WRC, M-Sport
Sébastien Ogier, Julien Ingrassia, Ford Fiesta WRC, M-Sport
Ott Tänak, Martin Järveoja, Ford Fiesta WRC, M-Sport
Ott Tänak, Martin Järveoja, Ford Fiesta WRC, M-Sport
Sébastien Ogier, Julien Ingrassia, Ford Fiesta WRC, M-Sport
Ott Tänak, Martin Järveoja, Ford Fiesta WRC, M-Sport
Ott Tänak, Martin Järveoja, Ford Fiesta WRC, M-Sport
Ott Tänak, M-Sport
Elfyn Evans, Daniel Barritt, Ford Fiesta WRC, M-Sport
Elfyn Evans, Daniel Barritt, Ford Fiesta WRC, M-Sport
Sébastien Ogier, Julien Ingrassia, Ford Fiesta WRC, M-Sport
Elfyn Evans, Daniel Barritt, Ford Fiesta WRC, M-Sport
Ott Tänak, Martin Järveoja, Ford Fiesta WRC, M-Sport
Teemu Suninen, Mikko Markkula, Ford Fiesta WRC, M-Sport
Juho Hänninen, Kaj Lindström, Toyota Yaris WRC, Toyota Racing
Mads Ostberg, Ola Floene, Ford Fiesta WRC
Ott Tänak, Martin Järveoja, M-Sport, Ford Fiesta WRC
Ott Tänak, Martin Järveoja, M-Sport, Ford Fiesta WRC
Ott Tänak, Martin Järveoja, M-Sport, Ford Fiesta WRC
Ott Tänak, Martin Järveoja, M-Sport, Ford Fiesta WRC
Sébastien Ogier, Julien Ingrassia, M-Sport, Ford Fiesta WRC
Sébastien Ogier, Julien Ingrassia, M-Sport, Ford Fiesta WRC
Sébastien Ogier, Julien Ingrassia, M-Sport, Ford Fiesta WRC

M-Sport are fired up and ready to fly as the FIA World Rally Championship ventures to the famous jumps of Neste Rally Finland.

Despite three victories and an unbroken record of podium finishes, the team are hungry for more. Having crashed from the lead of Rally Poland earlier this month, the team are determined to recover the taste of champagne next week.

Knowing Finland’s fearsome forests and the championship’s formidable competition, another victory won’t come easy but the team are more motivated than ever.

Neste Rally Finland – The Gravel Grand Prix

Commonly known as the Gravel Grand Prix, Rally Finland is fast – seriously fast. Nine of the ten fastest rallies in WRC history have been contested on Finnish soil and the new-generation world rally cars are expected to eclipse them all next week.

But it’s not just the high-speed that makes Rally Finland so special. The route is notoriously technical with a mix of gravel roads and blind corners over crests which demand the upmost precision and confidence.

Pin-point accuracy is required by all members of the team: by the drivers as they expertly land each jump; by the co-drivers as they perfectly time the delivery of every Pacenote; and by the team as they fine-tune the set-up for optimum performance.

With a total distance of 314.20 competitive kilometres, the action starts on Thursday evening with the popular Harju street stage in the centre of Jyväskylä. On Friday, endurance is the name of the game with close to 16 hours of action through classic speed tests such as Jukojärvi, Urria, Laukaa and Lankamaa.

Saturday is the day that everyone will be waiting for as the crews tackle one of rallying’s most famous stages – Ouninpohja. Reversed from last year, the stage is run in its more traditional direction alongside nearby Päijälä and other Finland favourites.

A 33.84 kilometres sprint through four stages east of Lake Päijänne closes the action on Sunday and the stage is set for another epic battle.

Malcolm Wilson – Team Principal

Having tackled the super-fast roads of Rally Finland as both a driver and a Team Principal, Malcolm Wilson knows what challenges lay in wait. The Cumbrian sampled the specialist Finnish roads for the first time in 1986 – securing a top-ten finish before returning to compete in both 1990 and 1993.

But it’s as a Team Principal where Wilson has excelled in Finland. In 1996, Jarmo Kytölehto and Arto Kapanen piloted their Malcolm Wilson Motorsport prepared Ford Escort RS Cosworth to a fine third place, and the results have only improved since then.

Teaming up with the Ford Motor Company from 1997 onwards, M-Sport cars have claimed 19 podiums and five wins on Finnish soil. The first victory came with Markko Märtin in 2003. Marcus Grönholm piloted the Focus to back-to-back victories in 2006 and 2007 and Mikko Hirvonen won on home soil in 2009 – as did Jari-Matti Latvala in 2010.

In 2017, Wilson is keen to see his team add to their impressive history at Rally Finland.

Team Principal, Malcolm Wilson OBE, said: “It’s been a long time since the championship has been this close heading to Rally Finland and that sets the scene for a very interesting event.

“This is a rally that everyone looks forward to – teams, drivers and fans alike – and it’s easy to see why. The speeds and jumps are incredible and, with these new cars, I’m sure that this year’s offering will be something quite spectacular.

“We’ve had a lot of success at Rally Finland over the years, and the whole team has been working hard to ensure we can add to that this year.

“It’s a shame that our test was cut short, but both Ott and Sébastien came away happy having found a good feeling on these specialist roads. I believe that all of our drivers are capable of delivering some very positive results and we’re working to ensure that everyone is as prepared as they can be given the circumstances.

“I’m expecting a very close battle, but that’s what makes this sport so exciting. Needless to say, we’re all looking forward to the fight and hoping to come out on top.”

Ogier and Ingrassia – The championship leaders

Currently leading the drivers’ standings by 11 points, Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia will be keen to extend their lead at next week’s Rally Finland.

Having claimed victory at the Finnish fixture in 2013, the Frenchmen know what it takes to win and will be determined to secure the best possible result through the famous forests.

Sébastien Ogier said: “Rally Finland is most definitely a highlight in the season. The Finns certainly know how to deliver a good rally, and these gravel roads are tailor-made for rallying.

“It’s fast – really fast – and the big jumps and high grip levels offer an incredible sense of speed that every driver looks forward to. At that pace, you’re fighting for tenths of a second and I’m expecting a very close battle.

“The weather looks as though it could be a little unsettled, so we’ll have to wait and see how that plays out, but we want to be in the fight at the top. That demands a near-perfect performance throughout the weekend with no mistakes and a set-up that delivers confidence in the driving.

“We had a two-day test this week and, although it was cut short and I’m sorry for my teammates who were unable to continue, the car felt fantastic. I’m really looking forward to the rally now – where we hope to secure a good result for our championship defence.”

Tänak and Järveoja – Fourth in the championship

Having missed out on victory in Poland, Ott Tänak and Martin Järveoja have a score to settle. Keen to add another FIA World Rally Championship win to their ever-improving repertoire, the Estonians will be ones to watch in Finland.

Relishing the flat-out speed tests that Finland has to offer, the pairing are aiming for a podium finish and the top-step could well be within their reach.

Previous starts: 7
Best result: 5th (2015)

Ott Tänak said: “Poland didn’t end the way we wanted it to, but we know that we have the pace and we’ll be looking to take that forward to Finland – another high-speed rally and another of my favourite events.

“I think every driver looks forward to Rally Finland. When you’re on it and hook up the perfect stage there really is no better feeling – and we’ll be hoping for plenty of that next week.

“The roads are really fast with blind corners after big jumps and a surprising amount of grip. You need to be brave and confident in yourself. If you don’t feel completely comfortable it’s almost impossible to push to the maximum and you’ll lose time – something that’s not easily gained at these speeds.

“We completed a two-day test in Finland this week – working to find the best set-up – and I’m confident that we’ll be able to fight at the head of the field again. I’m looking forward to it and I’m excited to see what we can do.”

Evans and Barritt – Sixth in the championship

Elfyn Evans and Daniel Barritt will be keen to make a return to the sharp end when the FIA World Rally Champion returns to next week’s Rally Finland

Having shown good speed through the Finnish forests, the Welshman will be hoping for a clean and quick run to deliver a strong result at one of the championship’s most famous events.

Previous starts: 6
Best result: 7th (2014)

Elfyn Evans said: “Rally Finland is one of the most enjoyable events of the year and I think everyone is looking forward to this year’s encounter. With these new cars, the spectacle will be something very special and I’m looking forward to seeing what we can do.

“We’re keen to get back to the sharp end and at the moment the weather looks as though it could be a little unsettled so we’ll have to wait and see how that works for us – hopefully the conditions won’t be as challenging as they were in Poland.

“The stages are so fast and you need to have precise Pacenotes and the confidence to drive to the maximum. The high speed combined with the technical nature of the stages is incredible and when you get into a good rhythm it’s a phenomenal feeling.

“It’s not all fun and games though as the margins for error are so fine. That said, we’ve shown some pretty good speed here in the past and, if everything works in our favour, anything is possible.”

M-Sport

shares
comments
The Citroen C3 WRCs tackle the 'Finnish Grand Prix'
Previous article

The Citroen C3 WRCs tackle the 'Finnish Grand Prix'

Next article

M-Sport will "explore every avenue" to keep Ogier for 2018

M-Sport will "explore every avenue" to keep Ogier for 2018
Load comments
How WRC legend Ogier will be remembered by his peers Prime

How WRC legend Ogier will be remembered by his peers

After winning his eighth WRC title, Sebastien Ogier has drawn the curtain on his full-time rallying career. To understand Ogier's legacy, many of his former rivals, team-mates and colleagues have shared their thoughts on a vastly successful career

WRC
Nov 26, 2021
Ranking lost WRC legend Richard Burns' 10 best rallies Prime

Ranking lost WRC legend Richard Burns' 10 best rallies

Richard Burns was a determined driver who took on the best rally drivers in the world during a boom period in the early 2000s, and beat them. On the 20th anniversary of his crowning glory in winning the 2001 WRC title, and 16 years on from his death on the same date, we pick out his 10 greatest drives

WRC
Nov 25, 2021
The internal focus that made Burns a legendary world rally champion Prime

The internal focus that made Burns a legendary world rally champion

At the turn of the millennium, WRC was full to the brim with rallying's great and good - and 20 years ago on this day, Richard Burns became England's first world rally champion. Although Burns' natural talent drove him to the top, his steely determination and mental strength was the key attribute behind his title-winning form

WRC
Nov 25, 2021
How Ogier emerged from Loeb's shadow to form his own WRC legend Prime

How Ogier emerged from Loeb's shadow to form his own WRC legend

OPINION: Adding an eighth WRC title to his name, Sebastien Ogier has bowed out from full-time rallying in style. Having been compared throughout his career with nine-time champion Sebastien Loeb, Ogier has convincingly demonstrated that he can stand on his own as one of the greatest rally drivers in history

WRC
Nov 22, 2021
How confronting self-doubt drove Ogier to become a WRC legend Prime

How confronting self-doubt drove Ogier to become a WRC legend

This weekend's Rally Monza marks the end of an era in the World Rally Championship, as Sebastien Ogier prepares to bring down the curtain on his full-time career with an eighth title. For all his enduring success, the Toyota driver reveals in an exclusive interview that lingering insecurities have compelled his quest for perfection

WRC
Nov 18, 2021
The third generation McRae on his way to the WRC Prime

The third generation McRae on his way to the WRC

The McRae family name is steeped in rallying history, with eight British titles between Jimmy, Colin and Alister - plus the small matter of the 1995 WRC title too. Next on the conveyor of talent is Alister's 17-year-old Max McRae, who’s setting out in Australia to conquer the world of rallying and return the famous name to the WRC...

WRC
Nov 12, 2021
Inside Hyundai’s radical approach to prepare for the WRC hybrid era Prime

Inside Hyundai’s radical approach to prepare for the WRC hybrid era

As the World Rally Championship undergoes its biggest shift in regulations for a generation, teams are taking radical measures to prepare for its new era. Hyundai's unique approach involved conducting a private 1500km rally in Italy and Motorsport.com went to see how the team is preparing for 2022

WRC
Nov 4, 2021
How Neuville stole the show from Ogier vs Evans slugfest in Spain Prime

How Neuville stole the show from Ogier vs Evans slugfest in Spain

While all pre-event chat focused on the two World Rally Championship title fighters, their closest challenger charged into the spotlight on Rally Spain. Thierry Neuville's star turn and another strong drive from Elfyn Evans in his fight with Sebastien Ogier made for an intriguing event as the 2021 campaign nears its crunch point

WRC
Oct 18, 2021