Fix found to resolve M-Sport WRC engine fire issue

A small fire broke out in the engine bay of the nine-time world champion’s Ford Puma as he took third place after Stage 4, finally ending the British team’s best hope for a podium in Kenya.

An O-ring costing 10p had failed on Loeb’s car, leading to the fire which prevented the Frenchman from restarting the engine. Reduced to electric power only, the car ran out of battery five kilometers from the service park.

During the break ahead of this weekend’s trip to Rally Estonia, Millener said the team had tweaked components to ensure this problem never happened again.

“It was something we hadn’t seen until now and it was a relatively easy fix, but it’s one of the ones you don’t see in testing,” Millener told Autosport. .

“We’ve made some changes to the way we rebuild parts to make sure this doesn’t happen again.

“I don’t expect that to happen again, but it was frustrating. Winning the event might have been tricky, but a podium was certainly possible.

Looking ahead to this weekend’s fast and smooth gravel roads, Millener expects an entirely different challenge, admitting it will be tougher than Kenya for the crews in some areas.

The M-Sport boss also expects a strong performance from lead driver Craig Breen, who finished second at last year’s event while driving for Hyundai.

“It’s a very different challenge,” he added.

Craig Breen, M-Sport Ford World Rally Team

Picture by: M-Sport

“It’s a lot faster and probably a lot easier for the cars, but harder for the crews.

“You can’t drop out anytime in Estonia. If you’re not on the ball on a stage, you’re not going to fight for the win, so this is the toughest challenge.

“The good thing is that all the drivers I spoke to after pre-event testing seem very happy with the car. It’s impossible to know your actual pace before the rally starts.

“People like Ott Tanak are going to be extremely strong there and we know that Hyundai has a longer gear ratio on these high-speed events, whereas we’ve gone for a more mid-range gear set for the season. We have to make sure our guys stay as close to this battle as possible.

“We hope that Craig [Breen] can perform well here. This is the one he says he can do well in and we want to see the results we signed him for.

“He’s had a good start to the season, but we need to see absolute pace now. The car can do that, so it’s up to him.

Breen is relishing the prospect of leading M-Sport’s four-car attack in Estonia after finishing second in the last two editions of the event.

The Irishman called his outing in Kenya two weeks ago a “disaster” after a puncture and a broken steering arm robbed him of a chance to finish in the top five.

“I honestly can’t wait, it’s a series of three rallies now that I’m very familiar and comfortable with,” Breen said.

Craig Breen, Paul Nagle, Hyundai Motorsport Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC

Craig Breen, Paul Nagle, Hyundai Motorsport Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC

Photo by: Austral/Hyundai Motorsport

“They are the opposite of the last two rallies of the season so far!

“I don’t feel like a stranger going to Estonia, I know what it’s about.

“We had some really good testing last week, the car felt good and I was really comfortable from the start so I’m looking forward to it.”

The seventh round of the WRC season is due to start on Thursday evening.

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