M-Sport is unlikely to test before next month’s Monza Rally, with team principal Rich Millener telling DirtFish the team must “think of the bigger picture with the business.”
A first pre-event test for the team since the World Rally Championship’s post-lockdown return had been arranged for before Ypres Rally Belgium because of the uniqueness of that rally’s conditions. But the same can’t be said of Monza, which is fairly predictable and will have two days held at the Formula 1 venue.
M-Sport is also mathematically unable to claim either WRC title in Italy, meaning spending resources testing for a rally that means less for it than it does to rivals Toyota and Hyundai makes little financial sense.
The team is 91 points adrift of Hyundai and 84 shy of Toyota in the manufacturers’ race with its highest scoring driver, Teemu Suninen, 67 points back from his former team-mate and championship leader Elfyn Evans in the drivers’ standings.
When asked if M-Sport planned to test and indeed what kind of roads would be ideal to test on ahead of a rally like Monza, Millener told DirtFish:
“It’s going to be quite difficult with the time we’ve got left and finding a venue that’s suitable really because I think a road in Italy will be quite difficult to do the stages, and we don’t have the maps yet so we’d need to understand a little more about the stages before we try and find something there.
“But we haven’t really honestly discussed much further ahead than that at the moment. For M-Sport, it’s still the same situation. As much as we would like to be doing as best we can, the year is pretty much finished.
“We can’t win any championships of any variety, we just need to still go and try and be competitive obviously and do our best but in this current, difficult time it doesn’t make sense to spend huge amounts of money going testing something that probably isn’t the most relevant to us.”
Millener admitted the fact Monza is unlikely to feature on the WRC calendar again after this season was another factor against testing, with a current lockdown in M-Sport’s base country, England, adding further complications.
“It would be nice to give the drivers an opportunity to have a go in the car on Tarmac, they haven’t been out for quite a long period of time, but we’ve got to think of the bigger picture with the business and making sure we’re as prepared as we can to go ahead with 2021,” Millener said.
“We will have a chat about it internally, but obviously UK is still in its lockdown until the start of December and moving around and doing things isn’t as easy as it was in July/August so we’ve just got to be careful with that.”
Monza Rally on December 4-6 will be the seventh and final round of a truncated season.