M-Sport World Rally Team
The M-Sport Ford World Rally Team (formerly M-Sport World Rally Team, Qatar M-Sport World Rally Team and Stobart M-Sport Ford Rally Team) is the privately run World Rally Championship team of M-Sport, the firm run by Malcolm Wilson that was previously responsible for the operation of the former Ford World Rally Team.
|Full name||M-Sport Ford World Rally Team|
|Team principal(s)||Rich Millener|
|Drivers|| Teemu Suninen|
|Co-drivers|| Jarmo Lehtinen|
|Chassis||Ford Fiesta WRC|
|World Rally Championship career|
|Constructors' Championships||1 (2017)|
|Drivers' Championships||2 (2017, 2018)|
Stobart debuted at the 2006 season opener Monte Carlo Rally with drivers Matthew Wilson and Pieter Tsjoen. Wilson went on to compete all the 16 rounds for the team. Other Stobart entrants during the season were Luís Pérez Companc in eight rallies, Kosti Katajamäki in five, Jari-Matti Latvala in four, Juan Pablo Raies at the Cyprus Rally and Andreas Mikkelsen at the Wales Rally GB.
The team's best results were Latvala's fourth place at the Wales Rally GB and Katajamäki's fifth at the Rally of Turkey and sixth at the Swedish Rally. With 44 points the team placed fifth overall in the manufacturers' world championship, behind OMV Peugeot Norway and ahead of Red Bull Škoda.
In the 2007 season, Latvala and Wilson were joined by Henning Solberg and the three competed in all 16 rounds. Latvala and Solberg were nominated to collect manufacturers' championship points. Mikkelsen and Gareth Jones also drove for Stobart, in three and five events, respectively.
The team achieved its best points total at the Rally Norway, when Solberg took Stobart's first podium place by finishing third and Latvala finished fifth. Solberg later placed third at the Rally Japan and Latvala in the next rally in Ireland, whilst Wilson finished a season best fourth in Japan. Stobart fought with the Subaru World Rally Team for third place in the manufacturers' championship all year long, but Latvala's technical problems at the season-ending 2007 Wales Rally GB meant that the team had to settle with fourth place and 81 points. The team scored points in every event, and Latvala also led three rallies during the season; Rally d'Italia Sardegna, Rally Finland and Rally Japan.
For the 2008 season, Latvala was promoted to the BP Ford World Rally Team and replaced in the Stobart team by Gigi Galli. Wilson and Solberg continued with the team and along with Galli are signed to compete in all 15 events with the Ford Focus RS WRC 07. For some events, Solberg's car was entered by the sister Munchi's Ford World Rally Team. At the season opener, the 2008 Monte Carlo Rally, the team's fastest driver was François Duval, driving a fourth Stobart car, who finished in fourth place. Galli finished third at the Swedish Rally. Duval returned to the team for Rallye Deutschland, and finished third, as the leading Ford driver. On this rally, Galli suffered an injury in a crash that kept him out of action for the rest of the season. Duval replaced him in the team on the next rally in New Zealand. The factory Ford team decided to swap their driver Latvala with Duval for the two tarmac rallies of Catalunya and Corsica, in order to help them to secure the manufacturers' crown. The two drivers returned to their teams for the final two rounds, while Stobart also ran Valentino Rossi on Wales Rally GB.
Solberg and Wilson were joined at the team for the start of the 2009 season by Urmo Aava. However, he left the team after two rounds. Solberg scored third-placed finishes in Argentina and Poland. The team were joined in Poland by Krzysztof Hołowczyc, who finished the rally in sixth place. British privateer and founder of team sponsor Vodka Kick Steve Perez was entered by the team on Rally GB. The team finished third in the manufacturers' standings behind the Ford and Citroën factory teams. Solberg and Wilson finished sixth and seventh in the drivers' standings respectively.
Wilson and Solberg remained with the team again for 2010. For the opening Rally Sweden, Finnish entrepreneur Mattias Therman paid for Stobart to run an additional two cars on the rally for himself and retired former world champion Marcus Grönholm. Gronholm showed great speed but endured many issues during the rally and could only finish in 21st place. During the season several other drivers drove alongside the regular drivers Solberg and Wilson – Per-Gunnar Andersson in Bulgaria, Duval in Germany, Juha Kankkunen in Finland, Ken Block in France and Spain and Liu Chao Dong in Wales. In various races Solberg, Dennis Kuipers and Mads Østberg drove the new Ford Fiesta S2000. Again the team finished third in the manufacturers' standings.
Willson and Solberg were retained in 2011 with Mads Østberg and Evgeny Novikov joining the team. The best finishes were two second places in Sweden and Wales which marked the teams best finishes by then. Like in the previous seasons the team finished third behind the works entries of Ford and Citroën.
Stobart's support was withdrawn in 2012 and the team was rebranded as M-Sport Ford World Rally Team. Novikov remained with the team and was joined by Ott Tänak, while Østberg, Willson and Solberg left.
With Ford no longer having works entry, the M-Sport World Rally Team acquired sponsorship from Qatar via Nasser Al-Attiyah. The Qatar M-Sport World Rally Team became the de facto Ford lead team, with returning Mads Østberg and Evgeny Novikov. Meanwhile, a separate formation – Qatar World Rally Team was also supported by M-Sport, with drivers Al-Attiyah and Thierry Neuville. The team also fielded Ford Fiesta R5 for the 2012 WRC Academy champion Elfyn Evans in the WRC-2. Neuville finished the season as runner-up, long way behind Sebastien Ogier, whiler the team finished third in the team standings.
The Qatar's sponsorship ended after the end of the 2013 season. Mikko Hirvonen and Elfyn Evans were nominated for points for the team, while a separate entry would be formed for Robert Kubica – RK M-Sport World Rally Team. Both teams have scored points separately from one another. Hirvonen finished his last season in WRC in fourth place with 126 points, exactly the same amount he scored in 2013, while Evans's debut season ended in seventh place. The team again finished third in the team standings, this time beat revived Hyundai WRT.
Elfyn Evans remained in the team, while Ott Tänak returned to M-Sport, replacing Hirvonen. The team scored three podium finishes and dropped back to fourth place behind Hyundai.
For 2017, M-Sport hired Sébastien Ogier as lead driver. Ott Tänak returned to the team after contesting the 2016 season with DMACK World Rally Team. Elfyn Evans returned to the premier class after contesting the 2016 season in the WRC-2 category.
Ogier won the drivers' championship, claiming two wins and nine podiums. Tänak finished third with two wins and seven podiums. Evans won the Rally GB and finished second at Argentina and Finland, ranking fifth in points. The team won the manufacturers championship, collecting a podium at every round.
The team was named "M-Sport Ford World Rally Team" again after 2012, with increased factory support from Ford. Tänak left to Toyota and Suninen received an extended program. Ogier retained the title with four wins and two runner-up finishes, whereas Evans ranked seventh with two podiums. Suninen finished third at Portugal and was 12th in points.
Ogier left to join Citroën, while Suninen and Evans is teamed with Pontus Tidemand.
- "Wilson steps back at M-Sport - wrc.com". www.wrc.com. Retrieved 21 January 2019.
- "Stobart VK M-Sport Ford Rally Team". WRC.com. Archived from the original on 2013-02-10. Retrieved 2008-02-01.
- "Galli joins Stobart Ford for '08". Autosport. Retrieved 2008-02-01.
- "Duval stakes case for more events". Crash.net. Retrieved 2008-02-01.
- "Ogier and Tänak lead M-Sport in 2017". m-sport.co.uk. M-Sport World Rally Team. 12 December 2016. Archived from the original on 20 September 2018. Retrieved 12 December 2016.
- Evans, David (3 January 2017). "2017 Monte Carlo Rally entry list revealed - Evans gets M-Sport seat". autosport.com. Motorsport Network. Retrieved 3 January 2017.
- 2017 Review: M-Sport wrc.com
- Evans, David. "Ford name returns to WRC as part of greater M-Sport support". autosport.com.
- "Tänak joins Toyota - wrc.com". www.wrc.com. 18 October 2017.
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