Wilson: 2005 an evaluation

Ford's WRC chief Malcolm Wilson has declared the team's 2005 campaign as an "evaluation year", and admits that he has no expectations from his two new drivers Toni Gardemeister and Roman Kresta

Wilson: 2005 an evaluation

M-Sport, which develops and runs the Focus WRC, lost the services of Markko Martin and Francois Duval last autumn during a period of uncertainty for the team while Ford considered its future in the sport. Once the Blue Oval had decided to put its backing behind the programme, Wilson signed the two unproven youngsters from Skoda during the winter break and he admits that he has been impressed with both drivers in testing.

"Both drivers have gone very well and I would be disappointed not to be in the top six here [in Monte Carlo]," said Wilson. "For sure we should be challenging for podiums on most rallies and if we are lucky we could get the odd victory.

"I'm just interested. To be honest I'm really looking forward to this year. In all the years I have been running the team, I haven't really known a bigger unknown. When we had Francois [Duval] and Markko [Martin] on their own, we knew a little about their experience and what they could do with the car. But with Toni and Roman it is a complete unknown."

Gardemeister and Kresta have spent the week building up to the Monte working in M-Sport's Cumbrian HQ learning how to engineer the Focus should it stop mid-stage. Wilson has also signed them up to an intense physical training programme, which he reports, the drivers have responded well to.

"This is an evaluation year and a great opportunity for these two. We don't really have a game plan for the rallies like we did before when Duval at times he had to get to the finish. Obviously for some events this year, Roman [Kresta] is going to need to get experience, but we are interested in seeing what they can do."

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