Following a dream start to their 2017 season, which saw them take victory in the opening event of the year in Monte Carlo, the M-Sport WRC team head to next weekend’s Rally Mexico, the first gravel event of the year with a 20 point cushion at the top of the Constructors championship.
Speaking ahead of Rally Mexico, Team Principal Malcolm Wilson commented by saying:
We’ve had a fantastic start to the season but the next challenge is just around the corner as we debut the Fiesta on gravel. We completed a lot of kilometres at our pre-event test and learnt more about the car set-up which we hope will pay dividends next week.
“Of course there’s no substitute for competition, and I think everyone is on tenterhooks waiting to see if we can continue the strong performance shown on the opening two rounds. I see no reason why we can’t do that and, even though we’ll be hampered by road position through the early stages, a podium has to be our aim.
“Rally Mexico is a real highlight for the team. We have a lot of great memories from the event and the atmosphere rivals anything else we see on the calendar. This year, with the inclusion of the first stage in Mexico City, I’m sure it will be something very special indeed – worthy of these spectacular new cars.
Sebastien Ogier who made his WRC debut in Mexico and who is currently second in the championship has three victories here most recently in 2015 commented by saying:
I made my WRC debut in Mexico so it is always nice to come back here. We always receive such a warm welcome from the fans and they have a real passion for the sport.
“For the first time in a number of years we won’t be opening the road but it will still be a big challenge. We’ll be the second car into the stages so we’ll still have to contend with quite a lot of road cleaning. We’ll need to try to stay as close as we can over the opening day and then see what’s achievable when the conditions become more consistent.
“We’ve had a good start to the season, but now we’re going to experience something totally different. This is where we’ll get a feeling for these new cars on gravel and where I’ll get to experience the Fiesta’s performance on this kind of surface. We had a really useful test last week with a lot of kilometres, but there really is no substitute for competition.
“It’s going to be an interesting rally and I hope we can continue our good performance and continue to progress.
Following an impressive event in Sweden last month, Ott Tanak heads to Mexico in third in the championship and speaking ahead of round three of the championship, the Estonian stated:
There are two things that you need to keep in mind in Mexico – the heat, and the altitude. We’ll head out to the event a little earlier to get used to the climate but when it comes to the stages, you need to be on it from the word go.
“The high altitude means that we have a lot less power to play with and you need to constantly have that in your mind. You need to be very clean and precise and make sure that you keep the speed up all the time.
“The stages themselves are nice and smooth, but they could become quite rough and rutted over the second pass and that makes it even more important to have a clean run. There is a lot of new aero on these cars and you don’t want to lose any of it.
“We racked up a lot of kilometres during the test last week, but we’ll have to wait and see how it plays out on the rally. We’ve not had a lot of gravel running so far this year so I think the key will be to find a good rhythm early on.
“We’ll also be opening the road again and that is something I’ve never experienced on gravel. It’s going to be an interesting rally with a lot of things to discover, but I’m looking forward to it and to seeing what we can do.
Elfyn Evans goes into the event in sixth place in the championship and speaking ahead of the rally he commented by saying:
The first gravel rally of the year will certainly be an interesting one and I think everyone is waiting with baited breath to see what they can do. The altitude makes this a really unique event and when you combine that with the high temperatures it’s a big challenge – for the crews and the cars.
“We’ll need to be at the top of our game to contend with the physical demands, but we’ll also need to adapt our driving style to get 100 percent of the performance. Because of the thinner air, there’s a reduction in power and you need to be really smooth and not so aggressive behind the wheel.
“You’ve got to be so tidy at this event and keep momentum through the corners. If you scrub speed before a long straight or sequence of corners the engine doesn’t have the power to carry you though and you can lose a lot of time.
“We’ll have to wait and see how the conditions suit us, but I am looking forward to this one. It’s an event I’ve done well at in the past and a clever run can deliver results – it’s just a case of getting the balance between risk and speed just right.
Rally Mexico takes place from March 7-12.