M-Sport Ford World Rally Team’s fleet of EcoBoost-powered Ford Fiesta WRCs have been transformed into their aggressive Tarmac stance and are ready to tackle the sealed-surface stages of next week’s ADAC Rallye Deutschland.
The number one Fiesta will once again run the upgraded aero package as developed in partnership with Ford Performance, and all three crews are keen to deliver a strong performance as the FIA World Rally Championship makes a return to asphalt.
In the lead-up to the event, Sébastien Ogier and Elfyn Evans will also visit the home of the Fiesta when attending an employee event at Ford’s Niehl factory near Cologne.
Team Principal, Malcolm Wilson OBE : “We’re aiming to be back challenging for the top positions at next week’s Rallye Deutschland, and I’m confident that we will be in a positon to do that. The Fiesta won the event last year, and the aim next week is to be in the fight for those top positions once again.
“Having won the event three times, Sébastien knows what it takes and Elfyn also has good form which will see him hunting a maiden podium on German soil.
“Teemu has a more difficult weekend ahead of him as this will be his first asphalt event behind the wheel of a world rally car – but it’s an important step in his career and I’m sure he’s looking forward to the challenge.”
RALLYE DEUTSCHLAND ASPHALT CHALLENGE
Rallye Deutschland is considered one of the FIA World Rally Championship’s most demanding asphalt events and its mixed terrain demands sharp reactions and the upmost focus.
Characterised by its variety, the event incorporates twisting roads through iconic vineyards, fast country lanes and broken asphalt on the notorious Baumholder military range.
The crews must master each change in rhythm and adopt the right set-up – and the right mind-set – for every variation. They must also rely heavily on their gravel crews to report any change to the condition of the stages and avoid even the smallest of mistakes.
Nowhere is that more true than on the military ground where dusty and slippery roads are lined with concrete blocks known as hinkelsteins. Designed to stop tanks, these hinkelsteins are to be avoided at all costs.
If that weren’t enough, unpredictable weather can make the going even tougher – bringing more dirt onto the road and producing treacherously slippery conditions. Anything from glorious sunshine to sudden thunderstorms can be expected next week, and then team must also be on top of their game when it comes to accurately predicting the weather patterns.
The event gets underway in the picturesque town of St. Wendal on Thursday evening and the 325.76 kilometres of competitive terrain are split into 18 special stages.
Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia know what it takes to win at Rallye Deutschland. The French pairing have won the German fixture three times and will want to be in the fight for a fourth victory next week.
Having also won the previous asphalt outing at the Tour de Corse, Ogier and the Fiesta have recent and proven form on Tarmac – something they’ll want to harness and further reduce the gap in the driver and co-driver championships.
Previous starts: 9
Best result: 1st (2011, 2015, 2016)
Sébastien Ogier : “We didn’t have the pace that we wanted in Finland, but next week’s Rallye Deutschland is a completely different event and we’ll be aiming to challenge for the leading positions once again.
“It’s always nice returning to asphalt, and we had the performance last time out in Corsica. But this is another difficult rally and everyone knows how big the challenge is to get everything right with all the varying stages.
“As always, the goal is to deliver our best and challenge for the victory. That’s what we’ll be aiming for – together with the target of reducing the gap to the championship leader.”
Elfyn Evans and Daniel Barritt also know what it takes to deliver a performance at Rallye Deutschland, but a German podium is something that has surprisingly eluded the Brits to date.
The German fixture played host to Evans’ maiden stage win in 2014 – when the Welshman came close to a top-three finish in fourth overall – and this year he’ll be hoping to be in the mix for the silverware.
Previous starts: 5
Best result: 4th (2014)
Elfyn Evans : “Rallye Deutschland is a pretty challenging event, but I think that’s one of the reasons why I enjoy it so much. The stage characteristics and conditions are constantly changing, and you’ve really got to be on the ball.
“It’s all about finding the right rhythm and set-up for each of the different challenges; as well as staying fully focused as this is one of those events where second chances are few and far between!
“The weather can also play a crucial part and a wet rally would make things pretty interesting. But let’s see what gets thrown at us next week. The Fiesta felt really good last time out on Tarmac, and we’ll be aiming for a strong result.”
Teemu Suninen has established himself as one of the best rally drivers in the world on gravel, but the young Finn has never driven a world rally car in anger on asphalt.
Making his asphalt debut in the top-specification Fiesta at next week’s Rallye Deutschland, Suninen will be looking to further his skills and show progress throughout the event.
Previous starts: 3
Best result: 16th (2017)
Teemu Suninen : “This will be my first time in a world rally car on asphalt and a big leap into the unknown. So far, I know nothing about driving these cars on this surface and I will have a lot to learn. I’m most curious about the tyre wear and how to use the brakes.
“This rally will be full of questions, and it’s always been one of the most challenging on the calendar. There is always a lot of dirt that gets dragged onto the stages, but I hope to find good confidence in the car and improve my driving in these tricky conditions.”