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The Independent Automotive Aftermarket Federation

Mexican test beckons for NGK-sponsored M-Sport Ford WRC team

Date: Friday 13 March 2020

The NGK-sponsored M-Sport Ford World Rally Team’s Esapekka Lappi, Teemu Suninen and Gus Greensmith will be targeting new heights when the FIA World Rally Championship turns to gravel at this week’s Rally Mexico.

The EcoBoost-powered Ford Fiesta WRC – fitted with NGK spark plugs and NTK Lambda sensors – has a strong track record at this breath-taking event, never finishing shy of the podium, and the team is confident of conquering the heights of this much-loved event once again.

Focused in and around the UNESCO World Heritage site of Guanajuato, Rally Mexico boasts beautiful scenery amidst challenging terrain. The 30°C heat can be closer to 50°C in the cockpit, and the stages rise to more than 2700 metres above sea level – where the oxygen starved air can see engine performance reduced by as much as 20 percent.

The gravel stages can be rough going and the crews must adapt their driving to contend with the reduced power. Mistakes are less easily forgiven, and the engineers must be sure to extract maximum performance at all times.

To best prepare for the challenges ahead, the Cumbrian squad conducted a two-day research and development test at Ford’s state-of-the-art climatic chamber at the end of last year – perfecting engine maps and confirming optimum performance at high altitude and temperatures.

This was supplemented by a pre-event test in Southern Spain – allowing the crews to reaffirm the sensation of driving on gravel, optimising set-ups for peak performance, and allowing new-boy Lappi to experience his gravel-tuned Fiesta for the first time this year!

Team Principal Richard Millener said:

“Rally Mexico is always a real highlight for the team and we’re all looking forward to experiencing the Mexican hospitality – and pushing for some strong results on the opening gravel event of the year.”