M-SPORT FORD FIESTA WRC
Sebastien Ogier/julien Ingrassia: 1st Ott Tanak/martin Jarveoja: 3rd Monte Fastest times: 7 (Ogier 3, Evans 3, Tanak 1)
Ahead of round one, M-sport’s rivals clung to odd technical issues early in the car’s development in an attempt to paint the Fiesta as fragile. This was done partly because the thing looked so tasty in testing.
The British team started running its full 2017 car later than anybody, and subsequently put down less pre-season miles. Reliability questions might be raised in the coming events, but there’s no denying the team has produced a mighty quick-looking motor. And Ott Tanak’s Monte pace underlined this.
Tanak’s getting better and better on asphalt, but remains someway from being a Monte specialist. The Estonian would, however, have won last month, had it not been for his team-mate being Sebastien Ogier and his car suffering a wonky ignition coil.
We all know what Elfyn Evans is capable of on tar, so it’s the Tanak speed that gave a real indication of how strong the Ford is. He was able to dial himself in and feel comfortable on roads he’s not a huge fan of. And he was able to do that while his gearbox spent a chunk of Saturday picking and mixing its own gears.
Ogier wasn’t comfortable with the car early doors. The Fiesta needs tweaking and tailoring to Ogier, but in terms of speed, the car’s there and the driver line-up has title contender written all over it.