Saturday | 21 Aug 2021

Life in the fast lane as Puma is put through paces in Ouninpohja

M-Sport Ford’s first fast gravel test with the hybrid Puma Rally1 has only served to raise levels of anticipation for the FIA World Rally Championship’s next generation of cars, according to chief test driver Matthew Wilson.

Wilson drove the prototype Ford on Finnish roads around Jyväskylä and came away massively impressed with the all-new hybrid Puma’s performance and the feeling inside the car.

“We drove the Ouninpohja stage,” said Wilson, “so as you can imagine, I didn’t stop smiling all day. It was fantastic. That’s the first time we’ve run the car on that kind of really fast gravel road with such high grip. It was sensational.

“The extra power from the hybrid was coming in at a higher speed in Finland and to have that extra boost when you’re already moving through the gears was amazing.

“It was a genuine kick in the back and then [time to] hang on. Like I said, the grip was really good – so I think that accentuated the feeling from the hybrid. There was less wheelspin and more of the car just powering forwards.

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“I’ve not been in Finland for 10 years and I wasn’t sure what it would be like to get back in the car and go again. I think it’s a reflection on this car that I was able to get back in and be back up to speed so quickly.

“Everything feels really natural in there, but I think another big thing is the safety side. We have this big extra door bar next to you and that really helps. I’ve said it before, but I really feel these are potentially the safest rally cars we’ve ever had.”

Former WRC regular Wilson’s testing kilometres clearly helped get him back in the groove for competition. He won the latest round of the British Rally Championship in Scotland, driving a Ford Fiesta Rally2, last weekend.

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