INTRODUCTION FROM M-SPORT MANAGING DIRECTOR, MALCOLM WILSON OBE
Well, there's only one WRC round left and what an exciting season this year's championship has shaped up to be! Mikko [Hirvonen] and Jari-Matti [Latvala] did exactly what they needed to in Spain last weekend - they played a perfect team role and knowing that asphalt is not their favourite surface, they both did an incredible job to finish on the podium.
I'm very encouraged by the performance of the Ford Fiesta RS WRC on asphalt this year, I feel we've made a huge step forward in this area. Mikko was under huge pressure in Spain. He had to finish as far up the leaderboard as possible and did a fantastic job of finishing second. He now goes to Britain only eight points behind the leader and the final round is sure to be nail-bitingly exciting.
Spain was also host to the final round of the Super 2000 World Rally Championship (S-WRC) which saw our Ford Fiesta S2000 claim two podium spots with Ott Tänak and Martin Prokop finishing second and third respectively. Both drivers have done remarkably well this season and the Fiesta S2000 has claimed an incredible 15 podium spots over the course of the eight-round series.
We're very much looking forward to our home event - Wales Rally GB - in a couple of weeks time. Not only because the drivers' championship is up for the taking but also because we've got some exciting new drivers piloting our Ford Fiesta RS WRC. Our S-WRC runner-up Ott Tänak will be competing under the M-Sport Stobart banner in Wales and Czech Republic's Martin Prokop will also be piloting the World Rally Car. They'll both be testing next week and we're looking forward to seeing how they get on.
Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority (ADTA) has also agreed a one-rally deal with Russia's Evgeny Novikov to pilot the Ford Abu Dhabi World Rally Team’s third Ford Fiesta RS WRC in Wales.
On a slightly different note, I was very saddened to hear the tragic news about Dan Wheldon and Marco Simoncelli. We all know that motorsport is dangerous but you don't expect to lose two great people over two consecutive weekends. Marco's other passion was rallying and he visited M-Sport only a few weeks ago to test a Ford Fiesta RS WRC. It was a real pleasure to have him here in Cumbria. Many of the team had met Marco and the news about these two great people put a dampner on what was otherwise a good weekened for Ford. Our sincere condolences go out to Dan and Marco's family, friends and colleagues.