Qatar M-Sport World Rally Team driver Evgeny Novikov reckons he proved a point on the Acropolis Rally last weekend.
Novikov sprung a surprise on the opening day, winning both stages and finishing proceedings at the top of the leaderboard, 30.3 seconds up on his closest rival.
He then maintained that form initially on Saturday morning, and was joint quickest in SS3. However, in the next stage, he suffered a huge time loss following an unfortunate encounter with a rock which broke the rear-right wheel and damaged his Fiesta's brake disc and suspension. As a result he dropped right down to 11th.
Despite that though, he came back, winning two more stages and eventually finishing in ninth place overall to take two championship points.
“Generally I think that we showed some good speed here, but with the incident on Day 2 we lost any chance of a good result,” Novikov said. “Everything was working really well and I felt really good in the car with a really good rhythm. We were able to set good times without pushing to the maximum so that is very positive going forward.
“Of course this is not the result we wanted, but I think that we have proved a lot this weekend. We've shown that we have the pace to compete at the head of the field and I hope that we can continue to improve like this in Sardinia.”
Team-mate Mads Ostberg meanwhile also had problems and in SS1 he hit a concrete step and lost a wheel. That immediately put the Norwegian on the backfoot and while he recovered to take sixth, he was still disappointed.
“It's been a very difficult weekend for us. Everything just wasn't on our side and it's been really frustrating. When everything was working well I think that we progressively went faster and faster and showed some good speed, but this definitely wasn't the result I was looking for,” he lamented.
“Having said that, it does look promising in terms of speed and we can go to Sardinia in two weeks knowing that we have the pace to fight. That event has been good to us in the past, so hopefully our bad luck will finally turn around there.”