WILSON WORK­ING ON DEAL FOR THE CHAM­PION

Motor Sport News - - Rally News - VW TIME­LINE

M-sport has a 2017-spec­i­fi­ca­tion Ford Fi­esta RS WRC ready for Se­bastien Ogier to test as soon as the French­man gets the nod from his cur­rent em­ployer VW.

Team prin­ci­pal of the Bri­tish team Mal­colm Wilson is work­ing flat out to find a way to bring the world cham­pion to Cum­bria for next sea­son.

“I’m con­vinced we have the car for him to take a fifth world cham­pi­onship,” Wilson told Mo­tor­sport News.

The pair have spo­ken about a pos­si­ble deal al­ready, but Wilson said no date had been set for Ogier to drive the Fi­esta.

“That’s something we’ve talked about,” he said. “Ob­vi­ously Se­bastien has still got a fair amount of talk­ing to do with Volk­swa­gen be­fore he knows ex­actly where he’s at to come and drive our car.”

M-sport was ex­pected to an­nounce Ott Tanak would drive along­side Eric Camilli next sea­son, but last week’s news has put every­thing on hold while Wilson ne­go­ti­ates with Ogier.

“We’ve sud­denly got a lot more talk­ing to do about who’s in what car next year,” said Wilson. “There’s no doubt that what hap­pened on Wed­nes­day [VW’S de­par­ture] was very, very sad for the WRC. I think it’s only right to pay trib­ute to what Volk­swa­gen achieved both on and off the stages – their ef­fort in de­vel­op­ing the aware­ness of what they were do­ing, their ac­ti­va­tion off the back of the world cham­pi­onship pro­gramme was su­perb and cer­tainly helped de­velop a wider aware­ness of our sport. We owe them.

“With that news, how­ever, comes an op­por­tu­nity and we now have to make the best of that chance. We have to put the right deal to­gether to get Se­bastien and Julien [In­gras­sia] in our car to make a world cham­pi­onship-win­ning com­bi­na­tion.” ● El­fyn Evans was test­ing M-sport’s sec­ond pro­to­type 2017 Ford Fi­esta RS WRC in Italy last week. An an­nounce­ment had been ex­pected re­gard­ing the Welsh­man’s fu­ture this week. Sources close to M-sport re­main con­fi­dent a deal can be found for this year’s Bri­tish Rally cham­pion.

Ir­ish Tar­mac and Na­tional cham­pion Don­agh Kelly will drive an M-sport Ford Fi­esta on the Grizedale Rally on Novem­ber 26.

The Done­gal driver took a step back from full-time ral­ly­ing in 2016, hav­ing dom­i­nated both of Ire­land’s do­mes­tic series the year be­fore. He had done so in a Ford Fo­cus WRC, but for this year or­gan­is­ers elected to fea­ture R5s at the front of the field. WRC cars could still com­pete, but couldn’t win the over­all Ir­ish Tar­mac ti­tle.

Kelly, who hasn’t com­peted on gravel since 2014, is look­ing at a po­ten­tial switch to an R5 af­ter see­ing the pace in the ITRC this year, which was won by three­time Bri­tish rally cham­pion Keith Cronin.

“At this stage it’s a run out to see how we like the car,” Kelly told MN. “It’s quite some time since I’ve been on the loose so we don’t ex­pect to be rac­ing any­body. It re­ally is just to find out what the R5 is like. Ob­vi­ously they’ve been pretty im­pres­sive all year. They’ve cer­tainly closed the gap to the World Rally Cars. We’re look­ing at the op­tions.”

Kelly won 10 of the 13 events he en­tered in his WRC Fo­cus in 2015, and re­turns to ac­tion with Conor Fo­ley on the notes.

“M-sport are pro­vid­ing the car for us, it’s only down the road from the event so it’s handy,” added Kelly.

Wilson has had talks with Ogier

Kelly dom­i­nated in his Fo­cus WRC in ’15 Metro 6R4 ran again

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