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New Central European Rally to offer “huge challenge” for WRC teams

The new Central European Rally will be a “huge challenge” for World Rally Championship teams and organisers and a crucial concept for rallying, according to M-Sport’s Richard Millener.

Richard Millener, M-Sport Ford World Rally Team

Richard Millener, M-Sport Ford World Rally Team

M-Sport

This weekend’s Central European Rally will undertake a first for the WRC as it hosts a rally that will feature stages in three countries, namely the Czech Republic, Austria and Germany. 

The penultimate round of the championship, which will return next year, will host 18 asphalt stages across four days, beginning with tests in the Czech Republic on Thursday and Friday. 

The rally will then traverse borders into Austria and Germany on Saturday before concluding in Germany. The event’s service park will be based in the German city of Passau. 

Tackling different types of roads across four days will present a logistical challenge for drivers, teams and organisers. However, M-Sport’s team principal Millener believes it is crucial for rallying to constantly evolve its events to increase its fanbase.           

“It’s always exciting to take on a new event, it’s a huge challenge for teams and organisers alike but it’s also crucial to keep our sport evolving and to bring in new fans,” said Millener. 

“I’m looking forward to seeing some new stages and it’ll certainly be interesting to see who ends up on that top step!”

M-Sport heads to Europe off the back of a memorable win for Ott Tanak in Chile earlier this month.

Podium: Winners Ott Tänak, Martin Järveoja, M-Sport Ford World Rally Team Ford Puma Rally1, second place Thierry Neuville, Martijn Wydaeghe, Hyundai World Rally Team Hyundai i20 N Rally1, third place Elfyn Evans, Scott Martin, Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT Toyota GR Yaris Rally1

Photo by: M-Sport

Podium: Winners Ott Tänak, Martin Järveoja, M-Sport Ford World Rally Team Ford Puma Rally1, second place Thierry Neuville, Martijn Wydaeghe, Hyundai World Rally Team Hyundai i20 N Rally1, third place Elfyn Evans, Scott Martin, Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT Toyota GR Yaris Rally1

The British squad will again field three Puma Rally1s headed by Tanak, who has since announced plans to join Hyundai for 2024.

Pierre-Louis Loubet will contest his final round of the season before handing the car over to M-Sport’s Rally2 driver Adrien Fourmaux for the season finale in Japan next month. 

Fourmaux will pilot an upgraded Fiesta Rally2 this weekend while Gregoire Munster makes his second appearance behind the wheel of a Puma Rally1 following a debut in Chile.   

“Off the back of the win in Chile, the team feel renewed and we’re now fully focused on keeping these great results up as we finish off the season,” added Millener. 

"Ott is still pushing us hard and we know he wants to do well in Central Europe and Japan. We keep seeing what the Puma is capable of and to finish the season off with some highs would mean a lot to the whole team.”

To help prepare for the Central European Rally, Tanak and Fourmaux competed in the Herbst Rallye in Austria last weekend. Tanak took the Puma to victory with Fourmaux finishing second overall in his Rally2 Fiesta.

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“It's been a while since we were on Tarmac and this event will be a new one in the calendar. It’s going to be a great challenge for us and our clear aim is to take the maximum from these last two events,” said Tanak.

“It is very hard to expect anything from this rally as everything is going to be new and I’m pretty sure that the weather will play a major role as well – so we really need to be on it to hit all the targets.”

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