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M-Sport still "has work to do" despite breakthrough WRC win

M-Sport boss Malcolm Wilson says his World Rally Championship team has "a lot of things we need to improve" despite scoring a breakthrough win in Sweden.

Ott Tänak, Martin Järveoja, M-Sport Ford World Rally Team Ford Puma Rally1

New signing Ott Tanak's triumph in Sweden earlier this month ended the Ford squad's WRC victory drought that had stretched back to January 2022, when Sebastien Loeb scored a famous win in Monte Carlo.

This latest win came following a faultless drive from Tanak in only his second WRC appearance driving the Ford Puma. The Estonian however scored only one stage win, proving that the current Tanak/Puma package is not fastest compared to rivals Toyota and Hyundai.

Wilson openly admits that there is still more to come for the Puma but is confident his team will become stronger as the year continues.

"It has been great to achieve a result like that but we know there are still a lot of things we need to improve," Wilson told Autosport.

"I will admit there is no question we have work to do,  but it is work that we can do. I believe we can get stronger."

When pressed on the areas his team needs to improve, he added: "There are a few things we need to look at. We will be working flat out to give Ott what he wants.

Ott Tänak, Martin Järveoja, M-Sport Ford World Rally Team Ford Puma Rally1

Ott Tänak, Martin Järveoja, M-Sport Ford World Rally Team Ford Puma Rally1

Photo by: Red Bull Content Pool

"You are so limited with what you can do due to the homologation [rules], but there are things we can do within the technical regs to really just make him more comfortable in the car.

"I would say performance-wise we know we are okay. Ourselves and Toyota are a little bit slower on top speed which you could see on some of the stages in Sweden but this event is quite unique."

Team principal Richard Millener confirmed to Autosport that the team is working to develop the Puma in the background.

M-Sport will conduct a pre-event test before next month's first gravel round of the year in Mexico.

Tanak will start the event facing the disadvantage of opening the road, after his Sweden win catapulted the 2019 world champion to the top of the championship standings.

Rich Millener, Team principal M-Sport Ford Rally

Rich Millener, Team principal M-Sport Ford Rally

Photo by: M-Sport

M-Sport supports Motorsport UK Academy Co-Driver programme

It has been confirmed the team will throw its support behind Motorsport UK’s Academy Co-Driver programme, which aims to develop aspiring rally co-drivers.

The newly announced 2023 Co-Driver cohort, featuring 10 candidates, will be the first to benefit from this collaboration, by visiting M-Sport’s HQ in Cumbria in March.

During the two-day visit, the Co-Drivers will hear from guest speakers and pitch for work experience opportunities, where the Motorsport UK Academy will be supporting up to three members of the group to be a part of the M-Sport support team for three WRC rounds in 2023. 

“I am very excited that we can now announce M-Sport will link up with the Motorsport UK Academy Co-Drivers programme this season, giving them some once in a lifetime opportunities, whilst giving some of them the additional opportunity to actually experience the WRC from inside our team, on event," said Millener.

“Last year we hosted one of the Motorsport UK Academy training days at Dovenby Hall and this got me thinking about how we could offer new and different concepts to the already successful programme. I am really looking forward to having some of them working with us at WRC events, giving them a real chance to see how the top-level teams operate on events along with allowing them the opportunity to make new contacts and meet new people within the sport. 

“These young and upcoming co-drivers are key to the success of the sport in the future and I hope this partnership will see us helping to develop the next set of World Championship winning co-drivers from the UK.” 

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