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The Independent Automotive Aftermarket Federation

NGK-sponsored M-Sport WRC team achieves double podium finish


Date: 04-Jun-2018

The NGK-sponsored M-Sport Ford World Rally Team secured a double podium success at the Vodafone Rally de Portugal – Elfyn Evans and Teemu Suninen claiming second and third places respectively.

Both drivers proved their ability to fight for the top positions; Evans with his first top-three result of the year and Suninen taking his maiden podium less than 12 months after first taking to the wheel of the top-specification Fiesta.

However, there was disappointment for Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia who were forced to retire the number one Fiesta at the final service.

Ignition specialist NGK Spark Plugs (UK) Ltd is a partner of the team whose EcoBoost-powered Ford Fiesta WRC cars are fitted with NGK spark plugs and NTK Lambda sensors.

Evans and Barritt posted three fastest stage times with a faultless drive from the Welshman and a long overdue boost for his confidence.

He said: “We knew coming here that we needed to get some strong points on the board – for the team and for us as well. So, to come away with second place was good. It wasn’t perfect, and there are some areas where we can still improve. I wasn’t entirely happy with my driving through all of the stages, but it's certainly alleviated the pressure and we can go to Sardinia in a positive frame of mind.”

Teemu Suninen said: “It’s really great to get my first podium here in Portugal – the first one is always special and I think it will be a big step for my career. I was really happy with my driving all weekend.”

A record-breaking sixth victory for Ogier and Ingrassia on Portuguese soil wasn’t to be – an uncharacteristic mistake putting paid to their chances of challenging for the win.

Damaging the suspension of their car when cutting a corner too deep through the second pass of Viana do Castelo (SS5), the pairing ran wide into the following corner and all hope of victory ended in the trees.

Returning under Rally 2 regulations, the five-time World Champions had little to fight for bar salvaging some points through the power stage. When the disadvantage of an earlier running order prevented a charge, the team retired the number one Fiesta.

Ogier is in second place in the drivers’ championship standings with Evans in seventh position and Suninen 11th, while the team is in second place in the manufacturers’ championship, just 15 points behind leaders Hyundai Motorsport.

Mark Hallam, Marketing Manager, NGK Spark Plugs (UK) Ltd, said: “It was a fine achievement by the M-Sport Ford World Rally Team to record a double podium finish. Although it was a disappointing rally for Sébastien and Julien, I’m sure they will soon be fighting to get back to the top of the leaders’ board.”

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