Ogier gets new car for Portugal WRC round
M-Sport has built Sebastien Ogier a brand-new Ford Fiesta WRC as it ramps up its effort to keep him at the top of the World Rally Championship standings.
There are no upgrades on the latest 2017 chassis to come out of M-Sport's Dovenby Hall headquarters and it will run in the same specification as the sister Fiestas of Ott Tanak and Elfyn Evans on the Rally of Portugal this weekend.
Ogier has not won since his victory on his debut for M-Sport in Monte Carlo in January, partly due to having to run first on the road on events' opening days since then, but he still holds a 16-point championship lead over Jari-Matti Latvala.
Reigning champion Ogier struggled to a distant fourth in the last round in Argentina, and M-Sport team principal Malcolm Wilson said the switch to a new car showed the squad's determination to stay in control of the title fight.
"A brand new car for Seb is another demonstration of our commitment to him and to the pursuit of this year's drivers' title," Wilson told Autosport.
"There's nothing different with this car, obviously there are no evolutions or anything with the 2017 car, but we just want to make sure everything is as fresh as it can be."
M-Sport has spent the fortnight since the last rally working through the issues Ogier had in Argentina.
"Seb ran a different specification of differential to Ott and Elfyn on that rally," said Wilson.
"The set-up was something he had tested and it worked for him ahead of the event.
"We only had two sets of these differentials and Seb wanted both, but it did mean he was running a different set-up to the other guys.
"Looking the tyre wear he was getting in Argentina, there was something [wrong] - he's normally so, so good on the tyres.
"We think it was a set-up thing and obviously we will have the solution for Portugal."
Ogier had a successful test ahead of Portugal and intends to extend his championship lead this week.
"We've done a lot of testing in Portugal over the past couple of months and done some further development work on the car," he said.
"That's definitely a confidence booster ahead of this rally.
"The competition is even closer this year and every team has a chance of victory.
"Opening the road on the first day will probably make it harder for us, but we come to Portugal with high objectives and a focus on increasing our championship lead once again."