M-Sport Rally Sweden leg 1 summary

M-Sport Ford press release

Mixed Fortunes For M-Sport In Sweden

Evgeney Novikov and Denis Giraudet, Ford Fiesta RS WRC
Evgeney Novikov and Denis Giraudet, Ford Fiesta RS WRC

Photo by: Ford Motor Company

Promising the same pace we saw from them in Monte-Carlo last month, Evgeny Novikov and co-driver Denis Giraudet did not disappoint. Despite his limited experience of winter rallying, the young Russian set competitive times throughout – including the third fastest time on SS7 – to lay fifth in his Ford Fiesta RS WRC overnight. Regrettably, the 21 year-old would have been even closer to the front-runners had he not suffered problems with his tyres on SS9. With only one spare, Novikov lost over 30 seconds but maintains fifth place ahead of tomorrow.

Ecstatic to be back behind the wheel of a WRC car, Michal Solowow and co-driver Maciej Baran produced a controlled drive on the snow-covered stages of Rally Sweden to lay 18th heading into the second full day of competition tomorrow. The Polish pairing will be looking to continue their composed performance in their Ford Fiesta RS WRC.

The rally got off to a flying start for Ott Tänak and co-driver Kuldar Sikk at the opening stage on Friday night. Taking third place in the super-special, the duo held the podium spot leading into the first full day of competition today. Unfortunately, Tänak lost over 11 minutes on SS2 when his Ford Fiesta RS WRC became lodged in a snow bank. Recovering well, the 24-year-old bounced back to set competitive stage times throughout the rest of the morning loop. Unfortunately for the young Estonian, further disappointment came in the afternoon when bald tyres forced three uncharacteristic spins.

Evgeny Novikov (5th) said:

“This afternoon was ok, but on SS9 unfortunately we took only one spare and we had a problem with the tyres so one tyre on the front was worn. There was nothing we could do and we lost over 30 seconds on one stage, so I am really very disappointed about that.

“Tomorrow we will drive with the same speed we had today and hopefully we can make up some time.”

Michal Solowow (18th) said:

“My Rally Sweden has been perfect. I’m enjoying the stages very much. They are very nice – really good stages.

“Apart from the fact we are not leading, everything else is ok! The car is good and tomorrow we keep going.”

Ott Tänak (28th) said:

“We were pushing on the first stage [SS6], but in the middle of that stage we had a high-speed spin. We lost quite a lot of time there. Then on the second stage [SS7] we had another spin.

“I was pushing in the beginning but on the third stage we lost the studs on the tyres and then we just had one spare so it was pretty slippery.

“Tomorrow we’ll just carry on, try hard and see what we can do.”

Elsewhere, End Of Day Quotes - Friday

Mads Østberg (3rd) said:

“I’ve been struggling this afternoon. I don’t really understand because I think we had a really good afternoon, but the times just aren’t coming for me. We are losing too much and it’s a little bit frustrating. We had such a good morning and now we start losing time so there’s not a lot more I can do at the moment.

“On the second pass we were struggling a bit with the set-up of the car so we’ll try to do something with that for tomorrow afternoon. Tomorrow morning we’ll go out with the same set-up we were using this morning. We had the same set-up on the last stage [SS9] but still lost time to Petter [Solberg]. But I think he saved his tyres and also he drove the stage in the daylight and we were stuck between daylight and darkness so the lampods didn’t really help and it was difficult to see the roads. I think that maybe explains a little bit why we lost so much time.

“It’s not perfect, but it’s been a good day. Fourth position is not bad and we’re not too far off the others. It’s possible to go quicker tomorrow.”

Martin Prokop (9th) said:

“We’ve had a very good afternoon although we made a mistake in that we took only one spare tyre and we had no studs on the last stage, so we lost some time there. But that was out only mistake.

“The rest is perfect and we are improving with every stage. I think for me it is very good. We are improving step by step. Now we have a good fight with Patrick [Sandell] and Eyvind [Brynildsen] so that will be a good one to watch!

“Tomorrow will be different conditions from today so we will see if it is still ok for us. I hope so, so we will try to change a bit on the set-up of the car and hopefully it will be ok.”

Eyvind Brynildsen (10th) said:

“This afternoon has been really good fun, and I should be smiling but there are some problems that we want to sort out and we will see what we can do. There’s a rear diff problem so we’ll see if we can manage to fix it.

“I really enjoyed the afternoon but I lost too much time to Patrik [Sandell] and Henning [Solberg]. We had a really good fight but with the problem we have you can lose any advantage so we had to slow down and now we are more than 50 seconds behind.

“Ok, we should have a good result, but we know that we could have been faster here - maybe sixth or seventh.

“If the car is ok, tomorrow we’ll go flat out again. I like the roads here and I know them quite well; I enjoy them and I enjoy driving the Fiesta when it’s working well. Also we have the fourth fastest time on the second stage after service [SS7] so yeah, if we can do that again I think we will be fine!”

Craig Breen (16th) said:

“This afternoon has not been too bad. We pushed quite hard following the first one or two [stages] after service and the times weren’t as quick as I was expecting if I’m being honest. Ok, Pontus [Tidemand] and P-G [Andersson] are a good distance ahead of us now so we just need to be clever and keep on chipping away to see if we can improve our speed.

“It’s going to be a very difficult day tomorrow. There are very few snow-banks so it’s going to be interesting to say the least. But I think we just need to get around and see how everybody else is getting on.”

Yazeed Al Rajhi (23rd) said:

“The afternoon’s stages were really nice but it was very difficult because the handbrake was not working properly. Step by step I’m trying to push a little bit. Tomorrow we will try to push a little bit more. We’ll use the first loop to get familiar with the stages and then try to push the limits a little on the second. We’re not trying to catch those in front. I just want to learn for myself where my limits are. The guys ahead are too fast and too far away, so it is only for me that I push.”

Maciek Oleksowicz (35th) said:

“This afternoon’s stages have got better and better. I think I know how to drive fast; now I just have to do it! The car is really good, but we’re going to change the gearbox in service just to be sure. For tomorrow the plan is for us to go faster and faster and just see what happens.”

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series WRC
Teams M-Sport
Tags ford, m-sport, novikov, solowow, tanak