M-Sport Ford Team Principal Malcolm Wilson admitted that his team “didn’t get the tyre choices 100% right” on Rally de España, but praised Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia for “pushing hard regardless.”
The M-Sport boss saw two of his cars finish on the podium, with Ogier finishing second and Elfyn Evans third behind winner Sébastien Loeb.
The runners up spot in Spain was enough to give five-time champion Ogier a three point lead over Thierry Neuville going into Kennards Hire Rally Australia next month and Wilson commented: “It’s been a great weekend for the team with another double podium for the Fiesta and Sébastien and Julien retaking the lead of the championship.”
“We didn’t get the tyre choices 100 percent right this weekend, but they pushed hard regardless and were rewarded with another great result.”
He added:“This one really is going down to the wire, and we’re going to see a thrilling finale in Australia. We’re enjoying a fantastic era in the sport and the true winners are the fans!”
“The conditions were really challenging, but Sébastien and Julien held their own – overcoming the disadvantage of their road position on gravel and pushing to the maximum when the action turned to Tarmac.”
After a series of poor results, Evans’ result was a return to the podium for the Welshman for the first time since Rally Portugal back in May. Wilson said on his performance: “Elfyn too delivered a really strong performance. He and Dan (Barritt) were competitive on all surfaces and were challenging right at the sharp end – taking a well-deserved podium at the end of the rally which was just what he and the team needed.
The third M-Sport driver, Teemu Suninen, was using his first appearance in Spain in a WRC car to gain knowledge of surfaces such as the wet asphalt he experienced on the Saturday of the event to learn for the future.
Wilson added on Sunien’s WRC Spanish debut: “It proved a trickier event for Teemu, but we know how long it takes to get these youngsters to get to the highest level. He learned a lot, experienced a lot of varying conditions, and showed a vast improvement throughout the weekend which – as is always the case with Teemu – bodes well for the future.”
The final round of the 2018 FIA World Rally Championship, Kennards Hire Rally Australia, takes place next month between November 15-18, with Ogier, Neuville and Ott Tänak battling to become drivers champion.