Europe’s top trailer maker is toasting success after supporting a daring rally run by F1 star Valteri Bottas in one of the most challenging rally races in the world.
The legendary F1 star made his rally debut for M-Sport, braving snow and ice-laden roads in his native Finland for the Arctic Lapland Rally – an annual rally competition taking in the challenging terrain of Rovaniemi.
The driving ace, buddied with one of Finland’s most successful rally co-drivers, Timo Rautiainen, celebrated a stage finish and an impressive fifth overall in M-Sport’s Ford Fiesta 1600 WRC, which is being tested in the Arctic Circle in preparation for its next World Rally Championship event in Sweden.
Ifor Williams Trailers has supplied two of its versatile Transporta trailers to the Cumbria-based team which has prepared and run the official Ford World Rally Team cars in the competition since 1996.
And the sturdy trailers didn’t let the side down, ensuring the safe transportation of vital equipment and supplies across miles of ice-covered, mountainous roads and treacherous forest tracks as well as providing shelter from the elements for the 25-strong team which worked in conditions of -37C.
“The trailers have been faultless, we’ve had no problems at all,” said M-Sport’s test manager John Godber.
“They offer everything we need including carrying capacity and shelter for the lads in horribly-cold -37C temperatures. When they’re not in use we put our catering facilities in there so the lads can eat inside and shelter from the elements.
“Everything we do is outside. There are no garages out here and so everything we need is carried by the trailers and they are fabulous. They look fantastic – we can’t praise them enough for their size and the amount of equipment they can carry including the cars if we need them to as well as wheels, tyres and spares. They’re always fully-loaded.”
The two Ifor Williams Transportas are towed behind a couple of 28-tonne trucks and undergo a gruelling and continuous schedule, clocking up tens of thousands of miles every year through Portugal, Sardinia, Finland and Spain. As well as providing generous internal volume to carry equipment and supplies, the trailers need to be able to comfortably accommodate a rally car – which is 220mms wider than a standard car.
“We’ve already done 35,000 to 45,000 miles in the last 12 months,” said John, 60, from the Lake District.
“We take everything on the road. One of our trucks provides an office and a kitchen. The other one is the ‘workshop’. We also carry a 42sqm inflatable tent where we work on the car.
“All the equipment has to be carried. Ifor Williams gives us this capacity and without them we’d have to take artics which would never be as maneuverable. We would literally be stuck without them.”
Andrew Reece-Jones, the design engineering manager at Ifor Williams Trailers, said: “We’re absolutely delighted IWT’s trailers have once again stood up to tough scrutiny, demonstrating reliability, safety and strength in some of the harshest and unforgiving conditions on the planet.
“There is no doubt IWT’s Transporta trailers are proving their worth, supporting M-Sport across numerous countries in a schedule which virtually never stops and making life a little more comfortable for the test team.
“We’re proud to have played a supporting role in M-Sport’s success in the Arctic Lapland Rally and salute the achievements of F1 driver Valteri Bottas in his rally debut. We will continue to support and follow the team’s progress in the WRC series and wish them the very best of luck for the remainder of the season.”
M-Sport is one of the world’s leading motorsport teams and has a string of international titles and rally wins to its credit including three FIA World Rally Championship Manufacturer’s titles.
Operating from an historic manor house in Cockermouth, it was founded by Malcolm Wilson who has more than 40 years’ experience at rallying’s highest level, much of it with Ford.
As a driver he won two British national titles in the late 1970s and achieved a long-held ambition by winning the British international crown in 1994 – all at the wheel of the Ford Escort.
As well as boasting flying Welshman Elfyn Evans as part of the Ford Motor Company team, M-Sport also looks after Bentley Motorsport outfit in the Blancpain Endurance Series.
The company’s highest level involvement is with the World Rally Championship, which includes a series of rallies on four continents, starting with the iconic Monte Carlo event in January, ending in Australia in November and including the Wales Rally GB in October.
Now the team can count another string in its bow, courtesy of its most recent partnership with the F1 driver.
“Driving rally cars is completely different to driving F1 cars and in this rally you’re talking about roads with six inches of ice and snow-covered forests,” explained John.
“There are people who do this week in and week out. They achieve speeds of 100mph through tree-lined forests and frozen gravel roads using only 8mm spiked tyres to grip. It’s a totally different environment and Valteri deserves the highest praise for how well he did.”