Ford World Rally Championship team M-Sport suffered one of its most heartbreaking losses at the 2019 Tour de Corse rally, picking up a puncture in the final stage of the event that forced them to settle for third.
The British M-Sport pairing of Elfyn Evans and Scott Martin were the class of the WRC field all weekend long in France. They were 8.8 seconds quicker than the next fastest car and a full 16 seconds quicker than eventual race winner Thierry Neuville in the opening stage, but picked up a puncture with 11 kilometres to go and lost time to Neuville and Citroen’s Sebastien Ogier, who was second.
Ford said it was “heartbreaking to watch the time slip away” from the M-Sport duo throughout the stage after the No. 33 Fiesta WRC was clearly the fastest car all weekend, but added that the team will “remain extremely proud and will take consolation from the rally-winning pace displayed here in Corsica.”
“This one is pretty hard to take,” added M-Sport team principal Richard Millener. “Elfyn and Scott were the fastest crew out there this weekend and have shown everyone what they and the Fiesta are capable of. That first stage this morning was simply sensational and I don’t think anyone can say that they didn’t deserve this victory.”
Evans, meanwhile, was happy to salvage a podium after suffering the unexpected and severely unlucky flat.
“I’m not sure exactly what happened, but it felt like we were in the middle of the road and just unfortunate to hit a stone or something in the line,” he said. “Straight away I knew it didn’t sound good, and sure enough a couple of hundred metres later we got the puncture alarm. We had 11 kilometres to go and I knew that if we stopped to change it we would lose a lot of positions. We decided to continue, and thankfully made it to the end to salvage a podium.”
Meanwhile, M-Sport teammates Teemu Suninen and Marko Salminen in the No. 3 Fiesta were under strict instruction from to simply finish the event, as it was the first time the Finnish pairing had contested the particularly tricky Corsican rally. Despite this, they showed impressive speed all weekend long and finished fifth overall, 1 minute and 24.6 seconds behind Neuville.
The next rally of the 2019 WRC season is Rally Argentina.