Evgeny Novikov and Ott Tänak secured a double podium for the M-Sport Ford World Rally Team on the penultimate round of the FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) at Rally Italia Sardegna today.
Keeping their heads where the more experienced faltered, M-Sport’s young guns ran a near perfect rally – coupling their speed with a composed air of control and maturity – to secure a ground-breaking result for the Cumbrian squad.
Climbing from seventh to second, Novikov and co-driver Ilka Minor piloted their Ford Fiesta RS WRC to three stage victories over the course of the weekend.
Claiming his best ever result, Tänak overcame early dramas to secure his maiden podium as part of the WRC. Losing over 40 seconds on the harder tyre through the event’s opening tests, the Estonian refused to be fazed.
Head down, and battling on, Tänak’s fighting spirit saw him and co-driver Kuldar Sikk climb an incredible six positions – from ninth to third – to take the final podium place with almost a minute and a half in hand.
Embarking on the final day of competition – which encompassed two short dashes through the Gallura stage – M-Sport’s youngsters got the job done to make the M-Sport Ford World Rally Team the highest scoring team on the 2012 Rally Italia.
With just one round remaining, Novikov remains sixth in the Drivers’ Championship with Tänak climbing to eighth – just one point adrift of rival Thierry Neuville in seventh.
Evgeny Novikov (2nd) said: “It was a very long rally with some very difficult stages, but it has been a great weekend for us. We had to always keep concentration but we are very happy.
“I had a birthday last month when I turned 22, and now I have two podiums, both in second place, so I think it was meant to be!”
Ott Tänak (3rd) said: “I am really happy. I didn’t feel very good after Thursday evening when we made the wrong tyre choice but since that it has been all uphill and we were getting better and better. At the moment, the feeling is incredible.
“For sure this has been a big boost. To have finished without problems and without making any mistakes is very important and I am feeling a lot more confident in the car.
It is getting better all the time and I feel like I am starting to understand exactly what I need to do now.”