M-Sport to focus on financial rebuilding in 2019

M-Sport will spend the 2019 World Rally Championship season rebuilding financially after Sebastien Ogier's exit and other blows, says boss Malcolm Wilson.

M-Sport to focus on financial rebuilding in 2019

Rich Millener steps up to the team principal role at M-Sport this season, with Wilson focusing on the commercial side.

Wilson admitted the last two WRC campaigns - both of which ended with drivers' titles for Ogier - had taken their toll on the company, as had dwindling sales of cars to customers.

"It's no secret that I need to get my business back on track to shore up the foundations for the future," Wilson told Motorsport.com.

"It would not be fair to say Ogier has derailed M-Sport's financial plans, but he hasn't helped.

"Actually, the biggest aspect is that we haven't sold any World Rally cars. Historically we've sold between eight and 14 cars a year and I thought we'd continue that trend.

"In the last two years, we've sold two and that, combined with the downturn in R5 sales – now everybody knows we've got a new car coming in the middle of the year – has hit us hard."

M-Sport had originally hoped to get its latest R5 version of the Fiesta ready for the start of the season, but it will now not be available until the middle of 2019.

"The FIA's homologation procedure takes longer and, being honest, we're committing more technical resource than ever to this new car," Wilson explained.

"I want this car to follow our own trend of cars coming out of the box ready to win.

"We wanted to look at the competition first, we wanted to see what the Volkswagen was looking like, we're putting a huge emphasis on this car within the company."

M-Sport will field Elfyn Evans and Teemu Suninen as its full-time 2019 line-up, joined by Pontus Tidemand for the first two rounds at least.

Wilson admitted that M-Sport needed to be in a stronger financial position ready to target a more established driver line-up for next year.

"The target is for 2020," he said. "Obviously we're hoping Elfyn and Teemu are right there, but if not then I want to have the funding to go for an Ott [Tanak] or a driver like that.

"I want to be back in the position to fight for the titles again."

Wilson emphasised car development would continue during 2019.

"One of the ground rules established with Rich and I is that there won't be any reduction in what we do with the car," said Wilson.

"It's absolutely cast in stone that we keep the car competitive and that resource is there.

"Rich is so hungry for this, he's coming to me with ideas all of the time. He has autonomy over the team and the decisions, but of course I'll be there in the background.

"We're all about giving youngsters a chance in this team, be that drivers, mechanics or people like Rich. He's come up through the ranks, starting out in parts sales and he's worked his way through the company."

M-Sport Ford livery

M-Sport Ford livery

Photo by: M-Sport

shares
comments
Why Ogier's Citroen reunion won't be awkward

Previous article

Why Ogier's Citroen reunion won't be awkward

Next article

Tanak inspired Latvala to tone down "aggressive" style

Tanak inspired Latvala to tone down "aggressive" style
Load comments

About this article

Series WRC
Teams M-Sport
Author David Evans
Why there's no easy fix for Hyundai's operational Achilles Heel Prime

Why there's no easy fix for Hyundai's operational Achilles Heel

Hyundai Motorsport boss Andrea Adamo was vocal in his criticism of his team's tyre choices on Rally Croatia and declared that he "had better move my ass and solve it". Doing so will be vital to getting Hyundai's 2021 WRC title hopes back on track, but finding the root of the problem won't be the work of a moment

WRC
Apr 28, 2021
How Ogier survived road crash drama to triumph in Croatia Prime

How Ogier survived road crash drama to triumph in Croatia

Sebastien Ogier was already in an incredibly tight fight at Rally Croatia before a surprise collision with public road traffic at the start of the final day. But the defending champion held his nerve to take a narrow victory and create further World Rally Championship history

WRC
Apr 26, 2021
Why WRC's hybrid path could leave it at a crossroads Prime

Why WRC's hybrid path could leave it at a crossroads

With all three major manufacturers committing to the World Rally Championship’s hybrid era from 2022, the future of the series is assured for now, but it could lead to trickier twists and turns further down the road

WRC
Apr 1, 2021
How Tanak froze out the competition at the Arctic Rally Prime

How Tanak froze out the competition at the Arctic Rally

Ott Tanak made up for a disastrous Monte Carlo Rally by leading all the way on the snow-kissed stages of the Arctic Rally Finland and in the process hit back at an event Toyota had been expected to dominate…

WRC
Mar 1, 2021
What to look out for in the 2021 WRC Prime

What to look out for in the 2021 WRC

As the 2021 World Rally Championship prepares to launch amid tight COVID-19 restrictions in Monte Carlo, here are the eight things unrelated to the pandemic that you should keep an eye on this year

WRC
Jan 21, 2021
Evans on the talking points of WRC 2021 Prime

Evans on the talking points of WRC 2021

He came close to the title last year, and now Toyota's Elfyn Evans gives his verdict on what to expect from 2021 as the World Rally Championship prepares to reconvene for the Monte Carlo season opener.

WRC
Jan 20, 2021
Why Britain's continued WRC absence is a wake-up call Prime

Why Britain's continued WRC absence is a wake-up call

With Rally GB dropping off the World Rally Championship calendar for the second year in a row, one of Britain's best-attended sporting events faces an uncertain future. It's an unfortunate situation that points to troubling times ahead

WRC
Jan 12, 2021
The Top 10 WRC drivers of 2020 Prime

The Top 10 WRC drivers of 2020

A drastically-shortened 2020 season gave the World Rally Championship protagonists precious little stage mileage to strut their stuff, but as ever the cream rose to the top across the seven events. We rank the year's best performers

WRC
Jan 4, 2021