Tuohino Stretches Lead in M-Sport WRC Ford Focus Challenge Finland's Janne Tuohino now holds a ten-point advantage in the M-Sport WRC Ford Focus Challenge following his recent stunning performance in the Acropolis Rally. Tuohino claimed 7th ...
Tuohino Stretches Lead in M-Sport WRC Ford Focus Challenge
Finland's Janne Tuohino now holds a ten-point advantage in the M-Sport WRC Ford Focus Challenge following his recent stunning performance in the Acropolis Rally. Tuohino claimed 7th overall on what is renown as arguably the roughest event on the FIA World Rally Championship calendar, leading home fellow M-Sport Customers Aris Vovos in 8th and Antony Warmbold in 9th.
The young Finn, who has shown solid performances on each of his three FIA World Rally Championship events so far this season, is hoping to stretch his lead further over his nearest rival in the M-Sport Focus Challenge, 2nd place holder Swede Andreas Eriksson, at the Rally of Turkey next weekend.
"For me it is very exciting. Not only am I challenging the best drivers in the world for a top place on the leaderboard, but also I am focused on the opportunity to win a fully supported drive next season. For me this is the biggest chance of my career. Manufacturers are sitting up and taking note of my progress and I am enjoying the chance to really prove that I am ready to move that one further step up the ladder," he said.
Making his debut in the M-Sport Focus Challenge at the Rally of Turkey is Germany's Antony Warmbold. Able to nominate four of eleven eligible WRC European events this season, Warmbold has chosen the Rally of Turkey as his first points-scoring event as he heads into the second half of the season and onto events he feels will provide him with the potential of a strong finish and a chance to make his mark on the leaderboard.
The M-Sport WRC Ford Focus Challenge was established this season for private Ford Focus RS WRC drivers competing in selected rounds of the 2004 FIA World Rally Championship, with the winner securing the opportunity of an M-Sport supported drive at a European Rally of their choice the following season.
M-Sport Director, Malcolm Wilson, said the M-Sport WRC Ford Focus Challenge will reward the most successful private Ford driver of 2004 with the opportunity to join the M-Sport team for a fully supported drive in a latest-specification Ford Focus RS WRC03 in a European FIA World Rally Championship event of their choice next season.
"With the changes to the FIA World Rally Championship regulations making it more difficult for up-and-coming drivers to secure a manufacturer drive, it is important that we continue to offer our customers ways in which to develop and expand their rally careers," he said.
To be eligible for the M-Sport WRC Ford Focus Challenge, competitors driving any Ford Focus WRC up to and including 2002 specification must register to compete in a maximum of six of eleven specified 'European' FIA World Rally Championship events, with their best four results counting toward their overall result.
There are currently more than 25 privateers driving Ford Focus WRCs in various championships, with more than half regularly competing in FIA World Rally Championship events. M-Sport currently support private Ford drivers on WRC events by providing dedicated engineering support and a spare parts service which not only helps to reduce cost but also increases the competitiveness of the Focus at world level.
"To offer the M-Sport WRC Ford Focus Challenge as a 'next step' is a natural progression in the development of our privateer programme," continued Malcolm Wilson. "Many of our customers have proved to be incredibly competitive and a number of them have enjoyed top points finishes. With less manufacturer entrants competing this year, but still considerable media interest in the championship, private customers' performance is acknowledged in the increased coverage that the WRC provides. And if that performance results in a fully supported drive at an event of their choice the following season, the marketing opportunities and coverage for both themselves and their sponsors will be immeasurable," he concluded.
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