M-Sport completed two separate five-day tests in the lead-up to the only snow rally of the year. The team worked on further improvements as well as developing the ideal set-up for Sweden’s unique and challenging terrain.
Team Principal Malcolm Wilson was delighted with the team’s performance at Rally Monte Carlo. But he remains aware of the challenges ahead and the work required to continue at the highest level.
“We’ve had a fantastic start to the season, but the hard work has not stopped. Making a return to the top-step of the podium was exactly what our team deserved. We’re fully aware that the hard work must continue if we want to achieve our objectives and regularly challenge at the head of the field”, Wilson said.
“Rally Sweden is a unique event but it’s also an event where we have historically performed well. Sébastien Ogier has won the event three times which is very impressive for a non-Scandinavian. Ott Tanak loves the high speed. So I think we can be quietly confident of challenging for the podium positions once again.”
“Sweden is notorious for close-fought competition, and success will not come without hard work and preparation. We know that we have a good base car in the Fiesta, but we are under no illusions about how closely the championship will be contested this year.”
“We’ve had a brilliant start, but all four manufacturers have the potential to secure victory next week and we will need to be at the top of our game if we are to secure another podium result. It’s what we are all aiming for, but it won’t be easy.”
When it comes to Rally Sweden, the Scandinavians reign supreme. Only two men have ever contradicted that rule, and Sébastien Ogier has done so on three separate occasions – in 2013, 2015 and 2016.
Sébastien Ogier said:
“We had a dream start to the season at Rallye Monte-Carlo, but we can’t let that distract us. There is still a lot of work to do and Rally Sweden is a truly unique event.”
“It’s an event that I really enjoy and we reach incredible speeds on the snow and ice – something that will only increase with the new cars this year. That means that there are no margins for error and you have to be very precise. There are often just a handful of seconds separating each competitor, so every second really does count.”
“If we can secure another podium result next week, it would be a fantastic start and surpass all of our expectations this early in the year. I see no reason why we can’t be quietly confident of that, but at the same time it will require a lot of hard work behind the scenes.”
“We’ve not yet seen everyone’s true potential. I expect a very exciting and very close-fought Rally Sweden”, Sébastien Ogier added.
Tänak’s best result of fourth came in 2015 and since then he has gained a wealth of knowledge, experience and fortitude.
Ott Tänak said:
“I’m really looking forward to Rally Sweden. It’s one of my favourite events on the calendar and the high-speed stages give you such an adrenaline rush. This year, with the more powerful cars, it will be something very special.”
“The stages are so much fun to drive – really fast and flowing, and very smooth. We need to be relaxed and focused and get into a good rhythm. I hope for nice ice conditions and to be in a position to fight at the top.”
“The most important thing will be to have a good feeling from the start and then have a clean run. Hopefully the weather conditions will be in our favour and we can have some nice snowbanks to give us some extra support if needed.”
“The lines are also very narrow and that’s maybe the most difficult part of the rally. In case of fresh snow you need to make sure you stay in the line – otherwise you go from good grip to no grip at all!”
“I can’t wait to get back behind the wheel, and I think we have the potential to secure another good result.”
— M-Sport (@MSportLtd) 4 February 2017