BRENTWOOD, England - Qatar M-Sport World Rally Team’s Evgeny Novikov and Qatar World Rally Team’s Nasser Al-Attiyah led the way for the squad as they brought their Ford Fiesta RS WRCs home in fourth and fifth places respectively on the 2013 Vodafone Rally de Portugal.
Novikov and co-driver Ilka Minor found themselves tantalisingly close to a podium finish when Jari-Matti Latvala’s Volkswagen Polo R WRC encountered problems on the final day. Alas it was not to be, and although narrowly missing out on third place, the Russian recorded his best result of the year which propels him from 17th to 10th in the FIA World Rally Championship’s drivers’ standings.
“Fourth place is a very good result for us, but still I was not so happy with the times. It was a difficult weekend for us,” said Novikov. “I was pushing on the stages but for some reason the times just weren’t where they needed to be.
“This [fourth place] is definitely the maximum I could have achieved this weekend, so I am happy with that. Now we just need to make sure we work hard and come back stronger in Argentina.”
Elsewhere in the Qatar M-Sport World Rally Team, Mads Østberg and his co-driver, Jonas Andersson, finished eighth overall and claimed an additional two points in the all-important Power Stage by setting the second quickest time.
Running first on the road, Thierry Neuville and Nicolas Gilsoul were disadvantaged by the task of clearing the road for the crews behind. Continually building their experience, the pairing used the seat time wisely – perfecting their pacenotes and building their experience ahead of next month’s Rally Argentina.
Dennis Kuipers and co-driver Robin Buysmans were impressing on their return to the championship. Unfortunately for the Dutchman – who was holding a strong seventh place overall –an electrical issue halted his charge before the final stage.
Team Principal, Malcolm Wilson OBE, said: “It’s not been the best of weekends for the team, but there are still a lot of positives to take forward. Evgeny [Novikov] and Nasser [Al-Attiyah] put in a great performances and Mads’ [Østberg] pace in particular proves that the team is capable of winning rallies.”
1) S.Ogier (VW)
2) M.Hirvonen (Citroen)
3) J-M.Latvala (VW)
4) E.Novikov (Ford)
5) N.Al-Attiyah (Ford)
6) A.Mikkelsen (VW)
7) M.Prokop (Ford)
8) M.Østberg (Ford)
9) K.Qassimi (Citroen)
10) E.Lappi (Skoda)
DNF – D Kuipers (Ford)