M-Sport Ford boss Malcolm Wilson said his ‘biggest fear’ is that reliability issues could derail Sébastien Ogier’s quest for a sixth consecutive FIA World Rally Championship crown.
Ogier put his title charge back on track when he won a thrilling Dayinsure Wales Rally GB for a record-breaking fifth time on Sunday in his Ford Fiesta.
He is now seven points behind leader Thierry Neuville with two rounds remaining as he looks to sign off with a second world title for M-Sport Ford before joining Citroën next season.
The result could have been very different after a torrid opening leg for the team on Friday. Ogier slumped to eighth when his Fiesta lost first and second gears while team-mate Elfyn Evans retired with an engine misfire.
“My biggest fear is that we let them down with the reliability,” Wilson admitted. “We had something on Elfyn’s car which we have not had since we were running this car.
“It wasn’t an expensive item, but it makes you mindful of what can happen. We need to give Seb and Julien co-driver [Ingrassia] a reliable car for the rest of the events.”
Ogier’s fourth win of the season capped a remarkable turnaround for the squad. It looked resigned to leaving Wales empty-handed, 12 months after Ogier and Ingrassia clinched the drivers’ and co-drivers’ world titles and Evans secured his maiden rally success.
“On Friday night, it looked as though all hope of another win on home soil was gone – Sébastien had lost time with a transmission issue, Elfyn had been forced to retire with a misfire, and Teemu [Suninen] had sustained damage to the roll cage,” Wilson said.
“It wasn’t looking great and I was thinking what a different 12 months can make. But you really can never discount Sébastien. He and Julien delivered a true champions’ drive and suddenly I was thinking what a difference 24 hours can make!”