Sun 20 Mar 2022

MRF: 'We'll come back strong’

A Team MRF Tyres representative has promised a strong comeback from the squad at the Azores Rally next week (25 - 27 March).

The team endured a rocky start to the season at Rally Serras de Fafe - Felgueiras - Cabreira e Boticas. 

Top seed Efrén Llarena could only muster twelfth after radiator troubles on the opening day, while the team's other drivers Norbert Herczig and Simone Campedelli both failed to finish with technical troubles. 

Extreme weather conditions led to exceptionally muddy conditions as eventual winner Nil Solans demonstrated the importance of starting order when he built a near-30sec advantage from first on the road on Saturday morning. 

MRF believes the Qualifying Stage - which put its drivers further down the running order - left the team starting on the back foot. 

“To be on the negative side, qualifying was a bit of a disaster for us,” they explained. “That gave us the wrong starting position, and with this unprecedented rain it was clear that everybody starting behind was having problems.

“We saw that Nil Solans was finishing [Saturday’s] stages with a one-minute gap [to Llarena], and this kind of gap is unheard of. But, if you look at the times for the second day [when starting order was reversed], this gap is not there.”

“The main thing is that all the cars are in shape, which is a good thing. Nothing is damaged and I feel very, very confident for the season,” they added.

The team has every reason to be confident. The pace is there - as Llarena proved with three stage wins in his Fabia on Sunday - and its Indian-manufactured rubber has a strong record at the Azores Rally. 

Top-tier pilot Dani Sordo steered its car to second on the event last year, narrowly missing out on victory to reigning champion Andreas Mikkelsen.  

“We’re coming back incredibly strong,” they continued. “As Dani proved last year, our tyres should do really well in the Azores and we’re looking forward to it.

“All three of our drivers are working really hard. They’ve been spending seven hours per day watching in-car videos and they know what they’re doing, so I think we’ll turn it around.

“This is a professional team and we all know our responsibilities. We have a formula and a plan and we will implement it. Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose.”

With seven rallies still to run, this season is only just getting started. Team MRF Tyres understands that championships aren’t won at round one and he explained that a well-thought approach across the whole year could pay dividends. 

“We are here for the long run,” they insisted. “One thing for sure is that from the beginning, the vision is the end of the season. 

“There might be a few less risks taken so to speak, but as you see, the guys who won in Fafe are not in the next round. Maybe their strategy is different, but for us, it is not to go flat-out and break the car. If you do that then you don’t have time to prepare for Azores. 

“If you need spare parts and everything else then it’s a bit of drama and then you have the chance of missing Azores, which is something we didn't want to do. The plan was always nice and steady, it’s just unfortunate that a couple of issues put us back.”

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