Life can be very cruel at times. Just when you think things can’t get any worse, life has nasty habit of giving you a kicking. Imagine the M-Sport squad’s feelings on Saturday morning when Ott and Raigo went into Parc Ferme to drive out their rebuilt Fiesta. And it wouldn’t start.
The car was eventually towed out and into the service bay where the recalcitrant beast was finally fired up and the crew left service 5 minutes late. Apparently, while parked up overnight, dampness had seeped into the fuel system and electronics. The boys set to once again.
Unfortunately, the Fiesta wouldn’t fire up again at the first refuel and although Tänak and Mõlder were able to get the car running, they couldn’t make the start of the morning's first stage in the allocated time.
After the crew drove the car back to service, the team let her bathe in the Mexican sun – drying the components before they embarked on Rally 2.1. Mission accomplished, a faulty sensor was found to be the culprit.
In the sister M-Sport Fiesta RS WRC, Elfyn Evans and Daniel Barritt climbed into a strong fourth place over the course of the day. The Welshman has delivered his strategy to the letter this weekend – pushing when confident and adopting a more cautious approach when not.
Elfyn said: “Today has been a good day overall but it has been more about being reliable than anything else. We didn't find a great rhythm this morning, but then Dani [Sordo] had some problems which really took the pressure off. This is such a difficult rally and tomorrow will be all about making sure we get safely to the finish. Of course anything can still happen, but I think fourth place would be another great result for us on only our second time here."
I’ll let Ott Tänak have the last words: "The boys did an awesome job last night so it was a real shame for everyone not to be able to start the stages today. In the end it was just a really small detail that stopped us this morning – literally just a sensor! It's fixed now and we're ready to get out in the morning.”
When Tänak’s Fiesta was retrieved from the watery depths some 10 hours after its unwanted dooking, he found that his lucky duck mascot, which was strapped to the handbrake, was still there – but she won’t be returning to duty.
“She was wet and dirty and females don’t like that. They enjoy spas and sunshine, so she won’t be going back in the car,” he said.