WRC

Rally Australia: M-Sport Focus preview

Two teams supported by M-Sport's customer programme will contest the Rally Australia, round ten of the FIA 2003 World Rally Championship -- German Antony Warmbold and Hungarian Balasz Benik. The two teams will work from a dedicated area next...

Two teams supported by M-Sport's customer programme will contest the Rally Australia, round ten of the FIA 2003 World Rally Championship -- German Antony Warmbold and Hungarian Balasz Benik.

The two teams will work from a dedicated area next to Ford BP Rally Sport within the Jarrahdale service park during the weekend, all benefiting from the support of M-Sport's specialist engineers, technicians and a central support truck, carrying parts and other shared technical equipment.

Car # 21
AW Rally Team
Driver: Antony Warmbold (D)
Co driver: Gemma Price (GB)
Vehicle: Y3 FMC (Ford Focus WRC02)
Tyres: Michelin

While Rally Australia was not initially in Warmbold's 2003 programme, the young German decided to include it as his ninth WRC outing for this season. "We want to gain as much experience as possible for next year and that means completing as many events as we can. Our program has gone very well so far, and as we have such a good reliable car, we have decided to go to Australia as well," he said.

The duo's Ford Focus RS WRC02 has had a new engine since Finland, the necessary work meaning there was no time to test prior to the event. "Despite the car not being available, there are literally no roads like the Australian stages anywhere in Europe, so realistically there was not an option to test. We will adopt a very cautious approach to this event as it seems very different, and by all accounts experience counts for an awful lot," he said.

"We can't afford to hit anything or go off. Setting "fast times" is fine, but without experience it usually ends in a crash. We have decided since the beginning of the season not to follow that theory and this event will be no different for us - I will start cautiously and speed up as my confidence grows," he said.

Car # 23
Best Racing Team
Driver: Balasz Benik (H)
Co Driver: Bence Racz (H)
Vehicle: X493 YOO (Ford Focus RS WRC02)
Tyres: Michelin

Balasz Benik, who is currently leading the Hungarian National Championship, has picked arguably one of the more logistically challenging WRC events to contend as his second WRC outing for 2003. "While most European based privateers wouldn't pick a long haul event for their second ever World Rally Championship event, we have chosen Australia because at this time of the year this is the only WRC event when we have enough time to get our Focus WRC car prepared properly by M-Sport between two Hungarian national rally championship rounds,"

The 24 year old set a target of two or three world rally championship events at the beginning of the year, his first in Turkey where a solid performance saw him finish 13th overall. "Turkey was a great experience for us and we were delighted to do so well. It was also a steep learning curve, as WRC events are vastly different from my home championship events, especially as they're almost three times longer than what I'm used to so it almost becomes an endurance race for us! We have stepped up our fitness training and are very much looking forward to the challenges offered 'down under'," he said.

Having never visited Australia previously, Benik is looking forward to the recce. "We have heard an awful lot about this event from other competitors and it will be a great challenge and learning experience for us to do the pace notes as correctly as possible in the time available. Bence and I have a great system so we are confident that we will have a good recce. Our aim is to reach the finish line and be well positioned among the private entrants -- we are really looking forward to it!," he said.

-msport-

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About this article
Series WRC
Drivers Gemma Price , Antony Warmbold
Teams M-Sport