Friday | 21 Mar 2014

M-Sport seeks alternator answer

With less than two weeks to go before Rally de Portugal, M-Sport is yet to solve the mystery alternator failure that took Mikko Hirvonen out of Rally Mexico this month, but the squad has ruled out a link with the Finn’s earlier retirement in Monte Carlo.

Hirvonen was third in Mexico when his Fiesta’s alternator failed, forcing his retirement on the eighth stage. At the time, the Finn called upon M-Sport to urgently investigate the part, which also failed on this year’s opening round.

Since Mexico, M-Sport has been working with its alternator supplier to establish what went wrong. The unit is made by McLaren Applied Technologies, part of the Formula One group, and is believed to be used by other manufacturer WRC teams.

“There’s a lot of communication at the moment between our guys and McLaren and it’s still being worked on,” M-Sport boss Malcolm Wilson told today.

“We also got a test planned next week in the UK where we’ll be trying some different things as well. Okay, we have had two or three [failures] over the last couple of years, so it is something that we need to get to the bottom of. Hopefully by the end of next week, between ourselves and McLaren we’ll do that.”

Wilson is sure there is no common link to Hirvonen’s other retirement this year. 

“The reason Mikko’s [alternator] failed in Monte Carlo was to do with the guy going off,” he explained. “It was a self-inflicted problem due to the car being stationary with everything left on. It was down to Mikko not being familiar with car – it would have happened to anybody. It was a totally different problem to what happened in Mexico.”

Wilson confirmed that driver-error was also to blame for the failure of the alternator in Elfyn Evans’ Fiesta during Rally Mexico Shakedown.