PHOTO: M-Sport mechanics work on the Ford Fiesta RS of Ott Tänak at the Rally Guanajuato Mexico service park in Leòn (WRC pic)
AN amazing repair effort by M-Sport World Rally Team mechanics has put driver Ott Tänak and co-driver Raigo Mõlder back in Rally Guanajuato Mexico after their crashed car spent almost 10 hours submerged in a lake.
The pair will rejoin Round 3 of the FIA World Rally Championship on Saturday morning, local time, with their Ford Fiesta RS in tip-top condition again.
Tänak said they fought for their lives when the damaged Fiesta rolled down a bank and within seconds sank out of sight in the deep lake, while they were contesting Friday’s first stage of the event outside León, around 320 kms north of Mexico City. They were unhurt and swam to the shore.
World Rally mechanics are renowned for their ability to make major repairs in rapid time, but the M-Sport team’s achievement in repairing a seemingly unsalvageable car in just three hours set a new benchmark in the world’s most challenging motorsport series.
PHOTO: The Fiesta is pulled from the lake (WRC pic).
Determined to see Tänak and Mõlder back on the stages, M-Sport’s technicians were prepared to work through the night after divers found the car in the lake and a tow truck took it back to León. And repair it they did – with the help of Tänak and Mõlder, who stayed by their teammates’ side until the work was complete.
The team changed the gearbox, fuel tank, turbocharger, cooling system, boost control valves, electronics, brakes, front and rear suspension and a number of cosmetic components. They repaired the engine block and drained it of lake water.
To complete the epic effort, the Fiesta was driven into the overnight security compound by Tänak and Mõlder, ready for the morning. Their re-start will be aided by the quick thinking of Mõlder, who took his vital pace notes (route instructions) as the car slipped below the surface and dried them later in his hotel room.
“This is something that we have never seen before. The car has been gone all day, submerged at the bottom of a lake, full of water, and the team had to do a full rebuild in just three hours,” Tänak said.
“It was a crazy challenge, but I knew the M-Sport guys would be up for it. I have massive respect for my team.
“This was a huge task to do, but they have worked as hard as they always do and I am so grateful to each and every one of them.
“To get back out on the stages tomorrow is very important for me and Raigo. We need to rebuild our confidence and get back behind the wheel and my team have made that happen this evening.”
Team Principal Malcolm Wilson said he was relieved the crew was not hurt.
“For me, it was important to get them back out on the stages and that was exactly what they wanted to do. There was no deliberation and that shows a real determination.
“The job that our technicians did to get the car fixed was nothing short of phenomenal. There were a lot of people in the service park who didn’t think it could be done, but I knew that they would be more than worthy of the challenge.
“They are a true credit to this team and I am sure that their loyalty and respect for Ott and Raigo also spurred them on.”