The M-Sport Ford rally team has certainly faced its fair share of highs and lows this year, earning a fifth-place finish in Monte Carlo, claiming victory in Sweden, suffering some setbacks in Mexico, and then watching former driver Craig Breen tragically lose his life while testing his Hyundai i20 N in preparation for Rally Croatia. However, that same event was kind to the M-Sport Ford team, as it managed to secure a second place finish with Ott Tänak and Martin Järveoja on board, propelling them up the championship rankings to fourth place – a mere four points away from first.
Tänak secured an early podium position on Friday, though switching to wet tires in the light rain proved to be a mistake and a temporary setup – albeit one that he ultimately overcame as he managed to secure his first stage win of the weekend. Tänak climbed to second place after leader Thierry Neuville ran off the road and was forced to retire, eventually leading to another stage win.
Heading into Sunday, the M-Sport Ford driver had a 30.5 second gap to make up between himself and first place, but came up a bit short, instead settling for the runner-up spot. Meanwhile, Pierre-Louis Loubet and Nicolas Gilsoul conjured up a seventh-place finish after suffering some suspension damage, while Adrien Fourmaux and Alex Coria finished fifth in the WRC2 category.
“The car has the pace, we can see that from the times, but the operating window seems very small and it has been difficult for me to understand where the sweet spot of the car is,” Tänak said after the race. “Up until now the team has been working very hard and I have managed to stay in touch with the competition but we need to continue working hard on finding more so we can keep involved in this exciting battle for the championship. I am happy to be only four points off the lead of the championship and second this weekend is still a very good result along with the two stage wins. The test for Portugal is next week and now my focus turns to preparing as best as possible and working with the team to get us as prepared as possible for the next important event.”
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