M-Sport pins hopes on major mid-2020 engine upgrade

The M-Sport WRC team is targeting a return to rally wins this year, boosted by the “biggest change” made to its engine since the current regulations began in 2017.

M-Sport pins hopes on major mid-2020 engine upgrade

The Ford Fiesta WRC was an immediate contender when the top category’s new rules came into effect three years ago, with Sebastien Ogier scoring two drivers’ titles in 2017-18 and M-Sport securing the manufacturers’ title in '17.

However, last season the team struggled after Ogier’s exit to Citroen, and failed to post a victory with Elfyn Evans and Teemu Suninen its main drivers.

Team owner Malcolm Wilson is hopeful that the upgrade which is slated to arrive at the fourth round will move the team forwards once more.

“This is the biggest change we’ve made to the engine since we started work with this car [in 2017],” Wilson told Motorsport.com. “It’s a big step. As you’d expect, we’ve worked closely with Ford on this, with Ford doing a lot of the modelling work on the engine.

“When it comes, we’ll have more power, torque and driveability – like I said, it will make a big difference. Once we’ve got that in place, I don’t see any reason really why we shouldn’t be challenging [for victory] on all remaining rounds of the series.

"We know where we are coming into this year and I’m looking forward to it. We won’t have three cars on every round, so we won’t be in the position to fight for the manufacturers, but we will have some target events where we’ll be looking for victories.”

The M-Sport squad confirmed its driver line-up earlier this month with ex-Citroen driver Esapekka Lappi joining incumbent Suninen and in the process securing the last remaining full-time seat in the WRC over the likes of Kris Meeke and Andreas Mikkelsen.

Despite the wide choice of drivers available for the seat, Wilson says it wasn’t a “difficult choice” to sign the “proven” Lappi.

"Esapekka was one of the few current drivers that had never driven for me,” said Wilson. “Beyond saying hello to him in the service park, I’d never really met him.

“We sat down and talked things through and I could very quickly see that he would fit in to what we’re doing here and the environment we have in the team.

“He’s got good experience of the WRC and he’s a proven rally winner – there’s a mindset thing that comes with that. I think he’ll settle in quickly with the team and he’ll find our car pretty easy to drive.

"There were a few different guys around, but this one wasn’t a difficult choice once I’d sat down with him.”

shares
comments
Hanninen to co-drive for Latvala in Sweden

Previous article

Hanninen to co-drive for Latvala in Sweden

Next article

Tanak opts against running number one in 2020

Tanak opts against running number one in 2020
Load comments
How Finland's newest rally hero made WRC history in Estonia Prime

How Finland's newest rally hero made WRC history in Estonia

Kalle Rovanpera broke a decade-old record in becoming the World Rally Championship's youngest-ever winner in a truly dominant performance on Estonia's fast gravel roads. Staving off the challenge of Hyundai's Craig Breen, his committed drive showed a maturity beyond his 20 years that gives Toyota's post-Ogier era a far brighter complexion

WRC
Jul 19, 2021
How WRC's new Safari adventure ended with a familiar tale Prime

How WRC's new Safari adventure ended with a familiar tale

The World Rally Championship’s delayed return to the Safari Rally was always set throw up some surprises, but aside from a spirited showing by Thierry Neuville it became another painful event for Hyundai in 2021. Once again it was Sebastien Ogier who took full advantage as he completed a stunning comeback drive

WRC
Jun 28, 2021
Remembering Colin McRae’s final WRC win Prime

Remembering Colin McRae’s final WRC win

The Safari Rally returns to the World Rally Championship this weekend for the first time since 2002 - when crowd favourite Colin McRae set aside the maximum attack style for which he was renowned to deliver a textbook third win.

WRC
Jun 23, 2021
How Hyundai's broken record gave Toyota a special Sardinia 1-2 Prime

How Hyundai's broken record gave Toyota a special Sardinia 1-2

For the second WRC gravel rally in a row, a promising Friday for Hyundai turned into desolation as Toyota gratefully picked up the pieces. This time it was championship leader Sebastien Ogier who took full advantage after Ott Tanak and Dani Sordo retired to score a memorable victory, having swept the road on the first two days

WRC
Jun 7, 2021
Why there's no easy fix for Hyundai's operational Achilles Heel Prime

Why there's no easy fix for Hyundai's operational Achilles Heel

Hyundai Motorsport boss Andrea Adamo was vocal in his criticism of his team's tyre choices on Rally Croatia and declared that he "had better move my ass and solve it". Doing so will be vital to getting Hyundai's 2021 WRC title hopes back on track, but finding the root of the problem won't be the work of a moment

WRC
Apr 28, 2021
How Ogier survived road crash drama to triumph in Croatia Prime

How Ogier survived road crash drama to triumph in Croatia

Sebastien Ogier was already in an incredibly tight fight at Rally Croatia before a surprise collision with public road traffic at the start of the final day. But the defending champion held his nerve to take a narrow victory and create further World Rally Championship history

WRC
Apr 26, 2021
Why WRC's hybrid path could leave it at a crossroads Prime

Why WRC's hybrid path could leave it at a crossroads

With all three major manufacturers committing to the World Rally Championship’s hybrid era from 2022, the future of the series is assured for now, but it could lead to trickier twists and turns further down the road

WRC
Apr 1, 2021
How Tanak froze out the competition at the Arctic Rally Prime

How Tanak froze out the competition at the Arctic Rally

Ott Tanak made up for a disastrous Monte Carlo Rally by leading all the way on the snow-kissed stages of the Arctic Rally Finland and in the process hit back at an event Toyota had been expected to dominate…

WRC
Mar 1, 2021