The M-Sport Ford World Rally Championship team head into next weekend’s Rally Sweden, the only true winter event of the season with high hopes of a strong result following a solid start to the season last month in Monte Carlo.
Speaking ahead of the event, M-Sport Ford Team Principal Richard Millener commented saying:
As our only true winter rally, this event has always been a highlight. There’s nothing quite like a classic Rally Sweden with drivers leaning their cars on snowbanks at mind-blowing speeds; and even when the temperature hovers above zero we’re never short of action with tyre management becoming an essential skill.
“Nowadays the conditions can change overnight and there’s always an element of the unknown when going to most winter rallies; so we’ve tried to prepare for that with a range of different conditions during our pre-event test. We spent two days in Östersund which is along the same longitude as Umeå, and Ott will be competing in Estonia this weekend. Whatever the conditions we’re expecting a big difference between the first and second pass, so that experience in changing conditions should hold our crews in good stead.
“Ott made a really good start to the season in Monte-Carlo as he got to grips with the Puma. We’ve been working on a few things with him since then, and I hope we will see the results of that next week.
“This will be a completely new challenge for Pierre-Louis but I’m sure he’ll benefit from Ott’s expertise, and it’ll be great to get him some more time on a surface less familiar to him. He delivered some really strong performances on loose-surface events last year, so I hope he can use that to his advantage – even if Sweden is a bit colder than Greece and Sardinia!
“I’m also excited to see how some of the sport’s future stars fair on the snow and ice with M-Sport Poland getting this year’s Junior WRC underway and last year’s champion, Robert Virves, joining the team for the first time this season.”
Ott Tanak is looking forward to the event in Seeden having come home in fifth place in the opening event in Monaco, ahead of the event in Sweden, the Estonian said:
This has been our first opportunity to try out the car on snow and ice. Some things seem to be there, and we are gradually growing in confidence. This is why it’s critical to do this rally in Estonia, to get some more experience across different conditions, and we’ll find out how far away we are from the right set-up.
“Personally, I feel much more confident on snow, so we’ll see how we compare to the other guys. If it’s icy it’s better to be out earlier on the road, and if its very snowy it’s the other way around. So, it really depends on the conditions, we’ll just have to see what the weather does. Either way we are ready for the action, we have no choice!”
Pierre-Louis Loubet, said:
“I’m very happy to be going to Sweden. This will be my second time there, but my first time on the new event in Umeå. I’m looking forward to the experience and aim to deliver a good, clean rally which will be the most important thing for me next weekend.
“Everything is still very new for myself and Nicolas, so it is important to gather as much experience and knowledge as possible and use that to build confidence ahead of the upcoming gravel events. Let’s try our best to deliver a good result and enjoy this new experience!”