Frustrating weekend for MML Sports in Estonia

Last weekend saw a frustrating weekend for MML Sports on the Mad Croc Rally Estonia. Regular Latvian driver Ivars Vasaraudzis and co-driver Peteris Spredzis were on the pace from the outset, only beaten by former WRC driver Markko Martin but several rare technical issues on their Mitsubishi Lancer WRCar led to the team deciding to retire rather than risk damage.

Latvian Rally Championship leader Vasaraudzis was clearly at home on the Estonian stages, consistently setting second-fastest times to Markko Martin in a Ford Focus World Rally Car. However, his problems began with a failure in the car’s main power-box, which controls the complete electrical system.

This was repaired by the MML Sports technicians in service and the car was again on the pace until the fifth stage of the event, when the clutch failed. The car was again returned to the service area and repaired, ready for Vasaraudzis to begin day two under SupeRally regulations.

However, on the third stage of the second day, one of the fuel injectors on the Lancer WRC’s engine failed and the team decided that to continue running could cause further damage to the engine and therefore, Vasaraudzis retired from the event.

Team-mate Raimonds Kisiels had a better event, suffering none of the problems that befell Vasaraudzis. He went on to finish in eighth place, despite admitting he didn’t particularly enjoy the stages, as he felt they were too long and fast for his style. He was also using a new co-driver for the rally, which clearly took some time to get used to.

Commenting on the weekend, MML Sports Managing Director John Easton said; “Ivars’ car obviously didn’t want to do this event! It’s very strange to have run him successfully for three years without any sort of technical problem and then have three issues all on the same rally. But then, that’s rallying sometimes.

“The power-box failure is not something we’re familiar with and we are speaking to the clutch suppliers to try to understand why that failed. As for the fuel injector, that was the final straw and with not enough fuel entering the engine, it could have suffered much more damage if Ivars had continued, so we took the decision to retire him from the event.

“Raimonds had a good event, though. He was quite happy with the result, considering he was using a new co-driver for the first time and the stages didn’t really suit him.

“I hope that things will be back to what we consider ‘normal’ when both drivers return to competition at home, on the Kerzume Rally at the end of August.”

There was one piece of good news for MML Sports this weekend though, as Felipe Freitas’ run of bad luck came to an end on the Circuito do Monte rally in Madeira. Ho took his first event win so far this year at the wheel of his MML Sports-prepared Mitsubishi Lancer EvolutionX Group N Rally car, beating Joao Magalhaes by a narrow margin of four seconds.