M-Sport Ford World Rally Team’s EcoBoost-powered Ford Fiesta WRC showed great pace at Rally Sweden. Its crews claimed five stage wins. Teemu Suninen delivered an incredible performance through the opening stages. The young Finn led the field for the first time in his career but he became a victim of the snowbanks. A second dice with the snowbanks then ended with a high-speed impact which brought M-Sport’s world-class technicians to the fore – replacing part of the rollcage in less than three hours to see their latest star back out on the stages.
“We had really good pace and that gives me a lot of confidence. But there were a couple of mistakes and that means that we come away from this rally with no points”, Suninen commented.
“I have to work hard for the next event, but I still think there have been a lot of positives. I led a rally for the first time, and the car felt really good. A big thanks to the team who have been working really hard, and hopefully we can do better in Mexico.”
Time to prepare for @RallyMexico! This first half of the season is very busy as we are either competing or testing somewhere constantly. But it’s good. I have not had a routine to this extent before – it shows on the stage times as well. #WRC #M-Sport #PET pic.twitter.com/qhgBaSh08d
— Teemu Suninen Racing (@TeemuSuninenRac) February 21, 2019
Elfyn Evans also had the speed to challenge for the top results
But he was left ruing an early spin on Friday morning which cost him close to half a minute. Regrouping with three fastest stage times, the Welshman pushed hard but had to settle for fifth place – albeit just 10 seconds shy of the podium. He also claimed an additional three points for the third-fastest time through the Power Stage.
“We’ve had very good speed for the most part of the weekend. I would say that we can be happy with 75 per cent of the stages we did, but I’m just kicking myself about the other 25 per cent which didn’t go quite as well as they should have. We had the potential to be on the podium so we are left with a little bit of frustration, but there are still a lot of positives. We’ve made a massive step with the car compared to last year and we already know that we’re competitive on gravel so I’m really looking forward to the upcoming events”, Evans said.
Local hero Pontus Tidemand also continued to gain the vital knowledge and experience needed to progress at this level
He suffered some technical issues on Friday morning. That hampered his road position throughout much of the weekend.
Despite the disadvantage, the young Swede showed promising speed with a fourth fastest time on Friday afternoon and regularly outperformed those with a similar road position and considerably more experience.
“It’s a dream to compete here on my home event with a world rally car. It has been amazing and I want to thank all of the fans and supporters and of course my sponsors as well as the whole M-Sport team and Ola [Floene] who have done a fantastic job all weekend.
“It was a shame to have had the issues on Friday but these things happen and I have been improving a lot. I’m starting to feel quite comfortable with the aerodynamics and everything and I only wish this event could have been longer!
“I still need some time with this incredible car, and I really hope that we have an opportunity to do some more later in the year”, Tidemand said.
We made it to the finish line! It’s a dream just to be here and I’m honestly happy with what we’ve done this weekend. We’ve improved a lot and learned more on how to handle this amazing car. Big thanks to @MSportLtd for this opportunity! #WRC #RallySweden ?? pic.twitter.com/rszvNltaqV
— Pontus Tidemand (@PontusTidemand) February 17, 2019
M-Sport Team Principal Richard Millener added: “It wasn’t the result we wanted, but it’s definitely been a positive weekend. The whole team has been working extremely hard on the development of this car, and it’s great to see that hard work paying off with stage-winning, and rally-winning, pace here in Sweden.”