Despite seeing both his drivers lose the lead of Rally Mexico, Ford team principal Malcolm Wilson remains upbeat about the progress the Fiesta RS WRC on an event where it has traditionally struggled.
Petter Solberg led the event after the opening stage in Guanajuato and Jari-Matti Latvala moved ahead this morning. Solberg was ruled out of victory contention by two punctures, while Latvala suffered suspension damage after hitting a rock on SS5.
Wilson says the engine work carried out at Ford's technical center in Dunton has paid dividends, with the chamber replicating the kind of high altitude conditions experienced on the stages in central America.
"Obviously, we are disappointed with the morning," said Wilson, "but this is the most competitive we've ever been in Mexico. I'm very happy with the performance from the car and I guess we have to look at getting back to third and fourth places.
"The improvement in the car has come across the board. Last year we were two seconds down at shakedown and we've been fastest here and then, at this stage of the event, we were getting on for being a minute down on the leader and this time around we were leading. These improvements have come from hard work in the team, but I'd have to say much of it is from the time in the climatic chamber at Ford."
Wilson added that another big step had been made with Latvala.
"Some of the pace this year has come through driver education and the way we have worked with Jari-Matti," he said.
Solberg and Latvala were seventh and eighth going into the afternoon stages.