The shake­down that is ready to kick­start a new era in the World Rally Cham­pi­onship for M-sport

Motor Sport News - - Wrc Preview: Ogier -

The junc­tion of the B5305 and B5302 in the cen­tre of Wig­ton was the place to be last Fri­day. Lo­cals in the Cum­brian town are used to see­ing M-sport’s rally cars be­ing driven through, but the sight of the first Ford Fi­esta WRC with Sebastien Ogier’s name on it was enough to make even the most non­cha­lant stop and stare.

Ogier wasn’t do­ing the driv­ing, of course. That job was left to David Lind­say, M-sport’s shake­down driver.

It was him, not the four-time world cham­pion, who put the first miles on the all-new car and he who put it into stage mode and launched it off the line for the first time.

“We al­ways drive the cars from the fac­tory over to the air­field, where we shake them down,” Lind­say ex­plains. “Those road miles are a re­ally im­por­tant part of the process as well. It sim­u­lates a road sec­tion, stop­ping and start­ing in places like Wig­ton. I al­ways have my wits about me, but I was maybe a wee bit more cau­tious with this car!

“When we get to the air­field, the car was checked over. After that it was a full ac­cel­er­a­tion run one way up the main run­way. That’s off the line and flat in ev­ery gear. We turned around at the top end and did the same in the op­po­site di­rec­tion. Again, ev­ery­thing was checked after that and then we did two runs at a five-kilo­me­tre (3.5-mile) as­phalt stage.

“That whole process was re­peated once the spare trans­mis­sion was fit­ted to the car. I’ve been shak­ing cars down for the last 12 years and I’ve driven some pretty spe­cial motors, in­clud­ing the Bent­ley [Con­ti­nen­tal GT3] for the first time and Ken Block’s ral­ly­cross car. But this one was just that bit spe­cial – firstly be­cause these 2017 cars are in­cred­i­ble, but also be­cause this was Seb’s car.”

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