WRC

SWRC: Rally Deutschland: M-Sport preview

Ford Fiesta S2000 crews set for German asphalt challenge Six Ford Fiesta Super 2000 crews will make their way to Germany next week for the seventh round of the Super 2000 World Rally Championship (S-WRC). The Ford Fiesta S2000 has achieved...

Ford Fiesta S2000 crews set for German asphalt challenge

Six Ford Fiesta Super 2000 crews will make their way to Germany next week for the seventh round of the Super 2000 World Rally Championship (S-WRC).

The Ford Fiesta S2000 has achieved podium finishes in five of the six rounds of the S-WRC so far and Spanish driver, Xevi Pons continues to lead the championship by 18 points. Fellow Ford Fiesta S2000 driver, Martin Prokop currently holds third position with Jari Ketomaa just two points behind, in fourth position.

After missing the previous round in Finland, Pons will rejoin the championship in Germany to try and hold onto his 18 point lead in the S-WRC championship. This will be the sixth time that Pons has contested Rally Deutschland and in 2005's event he finished ninth overall. The Spanish driver's extensive experience of the rally should hold him in good stead for a solid points finish next week.

Czech driver Martin Prokop has already racked up two podium finishes in the S-WRC class and is currently just eight points from snatching second position in the championship from P-G Andersson. In 2007, Prokop finished Rallye Deutschland eleventh overall. This year, Prokop will be keen to replicate his performance from 2007's Rallye Deutschland in order to move up the S-WRC leader board into second position.

Bernardo Sousa finished fourth in the last S-WRC round he contested at Rally de Portugal in May. This was the Portuguese driver's best performance in the S-WRC class to date. At last weekend's Rali Vinho Madeira, Sousa reported the Fiesta S2000 handled well on tarmac. This is the first time that Sousa has contested Rallye Deutschland but his recent experience of driving on asphalt will hold him in good stead as he aims for a podium finish in the S-WRC.

Dennis Kuipers is an M-Sport entry who will be a strong contender out of the six Fiesta S2000 crews after producing a second place finish in the Group N category at the recent Rally Bulgaria. The 24-year-old Dutch driver also gained valuable experience driving the Fiesta S2000 on tarmac at the same event but is not registered to score points in the S-WRC. Kuipers' co-driver, Frederic Miclotte, took a second victory in the Intercontinental Rally Challenge (IRC) when he contested the Rali Vinho Madeira with Freddy Loix last weekend. Kuipers last contested Rallye Deutschland in 2008 when he finished eighteenth overall so will be looking to build on his past experience to improve on this result next week.

Henning Solberg has returned to drive a Ford Fiesta S2000 after making his debut in the new generation rally car at Rally Bulgaria last month. The Norwegian produced a first place finish in the Group N category whilst also gaining valuable experience of the Fiesta S2000 on asphalt. Solberg last contested Rallye Deutschland in 2008 when he finished seventh overall - his recent experience of driving the Fiesta S2000 in Bulgaria combined with his knowledge of the event will make the Norwegian tough competition to beat.

Mads Østberg will contest Rallye Deutschland in a Ford Fiesta S2000 for the first time next week. The Norwegian driver has been a regular in his Subaru Impreza WRC S12 but will compete in an M-Sport Ford Fiesta S2000 in both Germany and France this year. The 22-year-old driver recently finished the Neste Oil Rally Finland in an impressive seventh position overall and will be looking for a strong finish in his Ford Fiesta S2000 for his debut at Rallye Deutschland.

Xevi Pons said:

"For me, Rallye Deutschland is a good event -- I know the stages well and it has always been a rally that I have done well at in the past. I've competed in this event a few times now so I think my experience of the stages will give me an advantage over some of the other drivers. I did over 200 km of testing in the Ford Fiesta S2000 two weeks ago and I'm feeling very confident with the car's set up. Each day will be very different in Germany but that's why I enjoy this rally -- there's always a new challenge. I'm really happy to be leading the S-WRC and I'm feeling confident that I can do well next week to hold onto my lead."

Martin Prokop said:

"I've just finished three days testing in the Czech Republic and I'm happy with the car's set up but Germany is a very difficult rally -- this year it will be even harder with the longer stages. I am familiar with a few of the stages which should help give me an advantage over other S-WRC competitors who haven't competed in this rally before. The weather and tyre choice will be critical during this rally and I just hope that the forecast remains dry for next week. I think it'll be a close battle between myself and [Xevi] Pons so I'll be pushing in Germany to try and close the gap between us."

Bernardo Sousa said:

"This is a new rally for me and I think a lot of the other Fiesta S2000 boys will have good experience of this rally and know what to expect more than I do. I have driven the Ford Fiesta S2000 on tarmac on two rallies recently though so I think that this might give me an advantage over some of the others who are not so familiar with the road surface. We are going to need some work done on the car after a small incident we had in Madeira last week but it should be fine for Germany. I'm aiming for a podium finish in Germany, I think [Martin] Prokop will be tough competition to beat but I will try my best."

Henning Solberg said:

"I had a great time driving the [Ford Fiesta] S2000 in Bulgaria -- the car handles very well and drives nicely on tarmac. This will be the third time I have been to Rallye Deutschland, it is a tough rally and the days will be very long but I think that I can do well at this event. Last time I was in Germany I finished seventh so I'm hoping that I can do well again this year. I just want to enjoy the rally, gain more experience of the Fiesta S2000 and do as best as I can."

Dennis Kuipers said:

"This is the second time I've competed in this rally. The last time I contested Rallye Deutschland was in 2008 and I finished eighteenth overall -- it was my very first WRC event so it is quite a special rally for me. It will be a very long event and will not be easy but I like the stages. I had some good experience in Bulgaria of driving the Ford Fiesta S2000 on tarmac so this should help me next week. I'm also doing some testing next Monday. I'm feeling confident -- it definitely helps that I've driven the car on tarmac before and that I know some of the stages."

Mads Østberg said:

"Germany will be a new experience for me because I've never rallied a Ford Fiesta S2000 before. The closest I've been was testing a Peugeot 207 S2000 earlier this year but I'm really looking forward to driving the Ford Fiesta S2000 as I've heard so many good reports. This is a great opportunity for me to see what these cars can do. I'm feeling very confident at the moment after a good result in Finland last month - I can't wait to get to Germany and push as hard as I can."

-source: m-sport

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