M-Sport Tänak climbs as Ford Fiesta domiantes WRC2

M-Sport Tänak climbs as Ford Fiesta domiantes WRC2

12.09.2015: Ott Tänak propelled his M-Sport World Rally Team Ford Fiesta RS WRC

Ott Tänak propelled his M-Sport World Rally Team Ford Fiesta RS WRC to sixth position on the second day of Rally Australia; as the Ford Fiesta RRC continued to dominate WRC 2.

Despite this being Tänak’s first, full-speed encounter with the Australian stages, he showed some highly encouraging pace to prove how competitive he and the Ecoboost-powered Fiesta can be.

Making the most of their advantageous road position through the first pass of Nambucca (SS9), he and co-driver Raigo Mõlder set the third fastest time to jump two places in the standings. The best was yet to come however, and the Estonians posted the second fastest time through the following speed test (SS10) – just 0.6 seconds adrift of a stage win.

As the conditions evened for the second pass, Tänak was still competitive – outshining a number of his more experienced rivals with a string of competitive stage times.

Were it not for a stall and a spin on the first day of competition, Tänak would have been in the mix for the podium positions – an impressive feat considering that his only previous experience of this event came at the wheel of a Ford Fiesta R5 last year.

In the sister M-Sport Fiesta RS WRC, Elfyn Evans continued to struggle. The Welshman was able to improve on yesterday’s pace but remained out of his comfort zone on Australia’s unique stages – his times far from what his talent deserved.

He and co-driver Daniel Barritt ended the day in ninth position and made some further set-up changes to try and recover the confidence they have been lacking ahead of tomorrow’s final speed tests.

Elsewhere, M-Sport cars continued to dominate the WRC 2 category with the top-three drivers all behind the wheel of a Fiesta RRC.

Privateer Nasser Al-Attiyah led the way with a healthy 50 second lead going into the first stage, but Yurii Protasov slashed that to less than 15 seconds by the end of the day; with Abdulaziz Al-Kuwari holding the final podium position in third.

As the two championship contenders head into tomorrow’s final stages, fans can expect an epic battle with both drivers hungry for victory.

Ott Tänak (6th) said
: “It’s been a good day for us, and quite a big improvement from yesterday when we were struggling quite a lot. We managed to improve and have really enjoyed the driving – the long one [SS9 and SS11] in particular was great fun with some really nice fast sections.

“Tomorrow we will go flat-out. There’s only 20 seconds ahead of us, and 25 seconds behind, so we need to keep pushing. With some proper Rally Australia stages left to run it will be a tricky day and important to keep focused, but it could be really interesting so let’s see what happens.”

Elfyn Evans (9th) said: “
The feeling’s still not been 100 percent and we still haven’t been where we want to be. For sure the times have been a bit better as a whole, but that doesn’t mean to say that we’re happy with the position we’re in and we still have some work to do.

“We’ll try some new things with the set-up tonight and see if we can make any in roads. With such massive gaps ahead and behind we might as well use the rest of the event as a bit of a test to see if we can improve for the future.”

Team Principal, Malcolm Wilson OBE, said
: “It’s been a much better day for us. Ott [Tänak] has shown some really good pace with a third and second fastest time which was encouraging for the team and shows how competitive he and the car can be.

“Elfyn [Evans] managed to improve a little this morning but he also had two massive moments which makes it all the more difficult to regain the confidence he’s lacking.

“We have a lot of work to do when we get back to the office to try and understand why he hasn’t been able to show the pace we know he’s capable of. But first, it’s important to leave here with his confidence on the up.

“We’ll try a few different things with the set-up this evening and hopefully that will give him the feeling he needs to be closer to where we all know he should and can be.

“In the WRC 2 category however, the Fiesta is totally dominating once again with some impressive performances from a number of drivers.

“There’s a great battle at the head of the field as Nasser [Al-Attiyah] and Yurii [Protasov] are separated by less than 15 seconds. Knowing how fiercely competitive those two are, I think we’re in for a great battle through tomorrow’s final stages.”


Yurii Protasov (2nd WRC 2) said:

“It’s been a really strong day for us and we’ve given nothing but 100 percent. I’ve really enjoyed the stages and we’ve had a lot of fun driving. I like tomorrow’s stages too so let’s wait and see what we can do there. I do not want to say that I’ll push for the win right now, but let’s see what happens.”

Abdulaziz Al-Kuwari (3rd WRC 2) said:

“It’s been a very good day for us. We’ve had good speed in some stages but also a couple of small mistakes so we have to improve on that. Tomorrow we aim to have a smooth run with no mistakes to bring home this podium.”

Anna Louise Rudd- photos M-Sport

Permanent-URL: http://www.automobilsport.com/m-sport-taenak-climbs-ford-fiesta-dominates-wrc2---140915.html

12.09.2015 / MaP

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