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Friday, 25 April 2014

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Ford claims 150th consecutive points finish in World Rally Championship

The Cumbria-based Ford team claimed its 150th consecutive points finish in the FIA World Rally Championship.

Sixth place for Petter Solberg and Chris Patterson at Rally Argentina enabled Ford to become the first manufacturer to reach the milestone figure in the championship’s 39-year history.

The record-breaking run began in the opening round of the 2002 series in Monte Carlo. At least one of the team’s nominated drivers has finished in a points-scoring position in every round since.

Ford, based at Dovenby Hall near Cockermouth, celebrated the achievement at the finish ceremony of this fifth round of the 2012 championship in Carlos Paz.

Ford Racing senior manager Gerard Quinn and Ford World Rally Team director Malcolm Wilson joined Solberg and Patterson in front of their Fiesta RS World Rally Car as they took the applause of the huge crowds.

“This record is the product of a remarkable blend of speed and reliability. We’ve shown over a decade of WRC rallies that we can score consistently. Celebrating 150 consecutive points finishes here gives us the confidence to go on to mount a challenge for the manufacturers’ title during the remaining eight rounds of the season,” said Quinn.

However, there was also disappointment for the team when Dani Sordo and Carlos del Barrio retired their Fiesta RS WRC from third place with a suspected alternator problem just 4km from the end of the 502km rally.

Sordo, replacing the injured Jari-Matti Latvala in a one-off appearance, delivered a superb performance to lie inside the top three from the start after only a single day’s testing.

Rally Argentina was the longest WRC round for almost a decade.

Heavy rain before the start made the gravel roads in Cordoba province, 700km north-west of Buenos Aires, extremely slippery.

With the rules allowing only a limited allocation of Michelin’s wet weather soft compound tyres, drivers were forced to complete much of the event using compromise hard compound rubber or worn soft tyres.

Team director Wilson said: “Petter produced a great recovery which culminated in him winning the Power Stage. After everything that happened, to leave Argentina with Petter still second in the championship is good. Dani did a perfect job and it was desperately sad for him to retire so close to the finish.

“The fact that the voltage in the car was so low indicates it was an alternator problem.”

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