M-Sport World Rally Team
|This article is outdated. (January 2013)|
|Full name||M-Sport World Rally Team|
|Team principal(s)||Malcolm Wilson|
|Drivers|| Mikko Hirvonen
Robert Kubica (RK M-Sport World Rally Team)
|Co-drivers|| Jarmo Lehtinen
Maciek Szczepaniak (RK M-Sport World Rally Team)
|Chassis||Ford Fiesta RS WRC|
|World Rally Championship career|
The M-Sport World Rally Team, formerly Qatar M-Sport World Rally Team, M-Sport Ford World Rally Team and Stobart M-Sport Ford Rally Team, is the privately run World Rally Championship team of M-Sport, the firm run by Malcolm Wilson that was previously responsible for the operation of the former Ford World Rally Team.
Stobart debuted at the 2006 season opener Monte Carlo Rally with drivers Matthew Wilson and Pieter Tsjoen. Wilson went on to compete all the 16 rounds for the team. Other Stobart entrants during the season were Luís Pérez Companc in eight rallies, Kosti Katajamäki in five, Jari-Matti Latvala in four, Juan Pablo Raies at the Cyprus Rally and Andreas Mikkelsen at the Wales Rally GB.
The team's best results were Latvala's fourth place at the Wales Rally GB and Katajamäki's fifth at the Rally of Turkey and sixth at the Swedish Rally. With 44 points the team placed fifth overall in the manufacturers' world championship, behind OMV Peugeot Norway and ahead of Red Bull Škoda.
In the 2007 season, Latvala and Wilson were joined by Henning Solberg and the three competed in all 16 rounds. Latvala and Solberg were nominated to collect manufacturers' championship points. Mikkelsen and Gareth Jones also drove for Stobart, in three and five events, respectively.
The team achieved its best points total at the Rally Norway, when Solberg took Stobart's first podium place by finishing third and Latvala finished fifth. Solberg later placed third at the Rally Japan and Latvala in the next rally in Ireland. Stobart fought with the Subaru World Rally Team for third place in the manufacturers' championship all year long, but Latvala's technical problems at the season-ending 2007 Wales Rally GB meant that the team had to settle with fourth place and 81 points. The team scored points in every event, and Latvala also led three rallies during the season; Rally d'Italia Sardegna, Rally Finland and Rally Japan.
For the 2008 season, Latvala was promoted to the BP Ford World Rally Team and replaced in the Stobart team by Gigi Galli. Wilson and Solberg continued with the team and along with Galli are signed to compete in all 15 events with the Ford Focus RS WRC 07. For some events, Solberg's car was entered by the sister Munchi's Ford World Rally Team. At the season opener, the 2008 Monte Carlo Rally, the team's fastest driver was François Duval, driving a fourth Stobart car, who finished in fourth place. Galli finished third at the Swedish Rally. Duval returned to the team for Rallye Deutschland, and finished third, as the leading Ford driver. On this rally, Galli suffered an injury in a crash that kept him out of action for the rest of the season. Duval replaced him in the team on the next rally in New Zealand. The factory Ford team decided to swap their driver Latvala with Duval for the two tarmac rallies of Catalunya and Corsica, in order to help them to secure the manufacturers' crown. The two drivers returned to their teams for the final two rounds, while Stobart also ran Valentino Rossi on Wales Rally GB.
Solberg and Wilson were joined at the team for the start of the 2009 season by Urmo Aava. However, he left the team after two rounds. Solberg scored third-placed finishes in Argentina and Poland. The team were joined in Poland by Krzysztof Hołowczyc, who finished the rally in sixth place. British privateer and founder of team sponsor Vodka Kick Steve Perez was entered by the team on Rally GB. The team finished third in the manufacturers' standings behind the Ford and Citroën factory teams. Solberg and Wilson finished sixth and seventh in the drivers' standings respectively.
Wilson and Solberg remained with the team again for 2010. For the opening Rally Sweden, Finnish entrepreneur Mattias Therman paid for Stobart to run an additional two cars on the rally for himself and retired former world champion Marcus Grönholm. Gronholm endured many issues during the rally and could only finish in 21st place. During the season for team drove several other drivers alongside the regular drvers Solberg and Wilson - Per-Gunnar Andersson in Bulgaria, Duval in Germany, Juha Kankkunen in Finland, Ken Block in France and Spain and Liu Chao Dong in Wales. In various races Solberg, Dennis Kuipers and Mads Østberg drove the new Ford Fiesta S2000. Again the team finished third in the manufacturers' standings.
Willson and Solberg were retained in 2011 with Mads Østberg and Evgeny Novikov joining the team. The best finishes were two second places in Sweden and Wales. Like in the previous seasons the team finished 3rd behind the works entries of Ford and Citroën.
Stobart's support was withdrawn in 2012 and the team was rebranded as M-Sport Ford World Rally Team. Novikov remained with the team and was joined by Ott Tänak, while Østberg, Willson and Solberg left.
With Ford no longer having works entry the M-Sport World Rally Team acquired sponsorship from Qatar via Nasser Al-Attiyah. The Qatar M-Sport World Rally Team became the de facto lead team, with returning Mads Østberg and Evgeny Novikov. Meanwhile a separate formation - Qatar World Rally Team was also supported by M-Sport, with drivers Al-Attiyah and Thierry Neuville. The team also fielded Ford Fiesta R5 for the 2012 WRC Academy champion Elfyn Evans in the World Rally Championship-2. The team finished 3rd in the team standings.
The Qatar's sponsorship ended after the end of the 2013 season. Mikko Hirvonen and Elfyn Evans will be nominated for points for the team, while a separate entry will be formed for Robert Kubica - RK M-Sport World Rally Team. Both teams will score points separately from one another.
* Season in progress.
Henning Solberg at 2010 Rally Finland
Jari-Matti Latvala at the 2007 Rally GB
Mads Østberg at 2011 Acropolis Rally
Ott Tänak at 2nd Surkee stage at 2012 Rally Finland
Mads Østberg at the 2013 Rally de Portugal
Elfyn Evans athe 2014 Rally Sweden