Mon 14 Mar 2022

Millener: ‘Puma chassis focus reaps rewards’

M-Sport Ford team principal Richard Millener believes the squad’s Ford Puma will be competitive on all surfaces thanks to prioritising development of the car’s chassis.

The British-based squad scored a double podium on the opening round of the FIA World Rally Championship in Monte-Carlo, with event winner Sébastien Loeb quick to point to immediate confidence in the chassis beneath him.

That, according to Millener, is one of the big plus points for the M-Sport Ford outfit after focusing on the upgraded safety cell chassis used in the new generation of hybrid-powered Rally1 cars this season.

“We’ve worked on a lot of things with this car,” said Millener. “One of the biggest things is the chassis, partly due to the new spaceframe, but also a lot of work in ensuring we have the best chassis and the best geometry with everything we’ve learned from the Fiesta.

“We’ve managed to increase the speed and reactivity of the car, which is something the drivers often talked about – the Fiesta being a little more slow to react. We’ve made good progress there.

“We’re happy we have a really good base on both gravel and Tarmac. I think we should be able to compete on all surfaces this season.”

Following last month’s second round on Sweden’s snow and ice, Croatia Rally’s (21 - 24 April) asphalt comes next, ahead of the opening gravel road encounter in Portugal in May.

That is the start of a range of gravel events which will test the performance and the window of flexibility in terms of getting grip out of the chassis.

“Every event has its own challenges,” said Millener. “Sardinia-type events are still flat-out, but you have these specific challenges on that type of hot rough gravel and then you have Portugal, where it’s very fast and quite smooth in places. But if it rains, it’s horrendously slippery.

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