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M-Sport Ford World Rally Team are targeting a return to form on the third round of the FIA World Rally Championship. Taking to the wheel of the EcoBoost-powered Ford Fiesta WRC at next week’s Rally Mexico, Sébastien Ogier, Elfyn Evans and Teemu Suninen all have a chance of challenging for the podium. The team conducted their pre-event test in Spain, only for it to be cut short by the wintry weather that has engulfed much of Europe. The Beast from the East may have cut the test from five days to three, but the Cumbrian squad remain well-prepared thanks to Ford’s invaluable technical support. Making use of the Blue Oval’s state-of-the-art Climatic Chamber in Dunton, the team are able to replicate the altitude and expected temperatures which – combined with the data from the test – allows the engineers to configure the best maps and set-up for the challenges ahead.

The conditions in Mexico will be the polar opposite of those seen in the last event, Rally Sweden. Photo: Red Bull Content Pool

The 30°C heat can be closer to 50°C in the cockpit. The crews must be in peak physical condition and every technical component must be able to withstand the punishing temperatures. If that weren’t enough, the stages climb more than 2,700 meters above sea level where the oxygen-starved air can see engine performance reduced by as much as 20 percent. The drivers must adjust their driving to contend with the reduced power, and the engineers must do their research to ensure maximum performance throughout the weekend. Team Principal, Malcolm Wilson, knows the team needs a strong result in Mexico.
“We were expecting the championship to be closer than ever this year, and the fact that all four manufacturers are separated by just 11 points is proof of that,” he said.
“If we want to regain our place at the head of the standings, we need to deliver a strong team result in Mexico and I’m confident that we can launch a return to form next week.”

Sebastien Ogier will be looking to grab his fourth Rally Mexico victory. Photo: Jaanus Ree/Red Bull Content Pool

Ogier pointed out the different nature of this event as one of the huge challenges. “This might be the first gravel event of the year, but it has its own unique character which sets it apart from the more traditional gravel rallies,” the Frenchman said.
“The altitude is higher than anything else we experience throughout the year and the thinner air means a lot less power than we’re used to.”
“Those conditions – linked with the pretty high temperatures – are practically impossible to reproduce in Europe which means we are counting even more than usual on the job done by our engineers in the climatic chamber to get the maximum performance,” he concluded. Rally Mexico runs this weekend as the third round of the FIA World Rally Championship.  
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