Last weekend’s Rally Guanajuato Mexico was certainly not short of action for many reasons but one of the most dramatic moments came when M-Sport Word Rally Team’s Ott Tanak and Raigo Molder left the road on SS3 and rolled their Ford Fiesta RS WRC into a reservoir.
As the car began to sink spectators looked on in horror as the Estonian crew scrambled to get out of the Fiesta and swim to shore. For many rally crews the rally would have ended there and then and the car would have been taken home with a hefty repair bill attached to it but in the world of the World Rally Championship it’s a different story!
As Tanak and Molder were brought back to the team hotel for medical checks the business of retrieving the car began as divers were sent down to recover it. Three and a half hours after the recovery operation started the Fiesta RS WRC was back in Parc Ferme where the M-Sport mechanics were waiting to tackle into the mammoth job of rebuilding the car.
At 21:30 on Friday night the mechanics got to work having assessed the damage. They had a three hours in which to complete the job if they wanted to rejoin the event on Saturday’s stages. During this time the mechanics stripped the car almost fully down to its shell removing the windscreens, wings, gearbox, turbo, both the driver and co-driver’s doors, front and rear suspension, fuel tank and all of the interior in the space of an hour!
The crew fixed the damaged engine and resembled the car and the Fiesta fired into life at 00:05 jut over two and a half hours after starting the repair job.
The following morning it became apparent that the car was still suffering from some problems as it kept cutting out and despite some more frantic work from the M-Sport team Tanak missed the deadline to get out for the Rally 2.
The car, now christened “Titanak” was left to dry out in the Mexican sun for the afternoon and after some more final precautionary repairs by the team Tanak and Molder were able to complete the final three stages on Sunday.
“The team have done a fantastic job, it is something unreal what they have done,” said Tanak at the end of the event, “It is such a great feeling to have been able to carry on. It was so important for me and Raigo to do that, and we really enjoyed it. Now, we can look to improve in Argentina,”
The drama overshadowed a brilliant performance from Tanak’s teammates Elfyn Evans and Daniel Barritt. The British pair put in a mistake free drive and brought their Fiesta RS WRC home fourth overall.
“Overall I am extremely happy with my rally and to come away with a strong fourth place – equaling my best ever result – was a big positive.” said Eans at the end of the event, “From a driving satisfaction point of view I think the pace was much better in Sweden and Monte, but we knew we needed a good result here and that is what we did.
Rally Argentina commences on the 23rd of April.