Sebastien Ogier now comfortable in M-Sport Ford after Portugal win
|By David Evans||Wednesday, May 24th 2017, 10:04 GMT|
The breakthrough that led to Sebastien Ogier's Rally of Portugal victory should serve as a launchpad to the 2017 World Rally Championship title, according to M-Sport team principal Malcolm Wilson.
The Portugal win, which Wilson described as "flawless", was Ogier's first since his debut for M-Sport in Monte Carlo and rebuilt his championship lead to 22 points over Thierry Neuville.
It followed a difficult Rally Argentina in which Ogier had finished only fourth, nearly a minute behind team-mate Ott Tanak.
"I'm delighted to see Sebastien settle and really feel comfortable in the [Ford] Fiesta WRC," Wilson told Autosport.
"We did a lot of work at the pre-event test on the balance of the car.
"I'll admit Argentina was a tough one for Seb, but he's shown what he's capable of in turning that around.
"He has known from the start of us working together just what we're prepared to put into this year and he's absolutely coming with us.
"The partnership is working perfectly and last weekend, for me, was the true demonstration of the potential of the package."
Though reluctant to go into the technical details of what had been changed at the pre-Portugal test, Wilson said it had made Ogier more comfortable with the Ford.
"It was about the front-rear balance of the car," Wilson said.
"The changes we made gave him that more natural feeling in the car and we all know what happens when you feel at ease and more relaxed.
"He was sensational and his drive was flawless."
Ogier moved into the lead of the rally on Saturday's third stage, but it was his effort when running first on the road on Friday that most impressed Wilson.
The reigning champion ended the opening leg in third, five seconds off Tanak's lead at that point.
"He won the rally on Friday," Wilson said.
"That was an incredible day of driving to do what he did from where he was on the road. He was superb."
Wilson believes M-Sport and Ogier can improve more ahead at a test in Sardinia of the Italian WRC round there next month.
"We can definitely bring more out of the car for him," said Wilson.
"There are more improvements to be made and he goes to that event with the kind of real confidence I think we saw for the first time this season from him.
"He's got the perfect platform towards that next drivers' championship from here."