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Cronje and M-Sport dominate in South Africa

M-Sport didn't just enjoy a successful weekend on home soil last week. As the 2013 FIA World Rally Championship came to a close in Wales – with M-Sport built cars dominating the overall top-14 – so too did the Cumbrian firm witness a fruitful weekend at the season-closing Garden Route Rally in South Africa.

Ending their championship winning season in style, Mark Cronje and Robin Houghton piloted their Ford Fiesta S2000 to another victory – bringing their tally of wins to an impressive seven from a possible eight this season. The pairing's latest victory also marked their fifth in succession – a feat which had not previously been equalled since 1996.

With seven of the eight rounds counting towards the championship, the duo also secured maximum points – that's 175 from a possible 175 on offer. Most impressively for M-Sport's range of Ford Fiesta rally cars however, the only round Cronje failed to win saw Jan Habig's Fiesta S2000 emerge victorious – making M-Sport the first outfit to secure a clean-sweep of season wins since Audi's 1983 performance.

Adding to the success of the mud-strewn stages either side of the equator, there were two Ford Fiesta R2s present on the S1600 podium in South Africa – Ashley Haigh-Smith and Emie van der Walt securing second and third in class respectively – whilst Euan Thorburn took his Ford Focus RS WRC to victory in the three-day national event at Wales Rally GB.

Elsewhere in the world, M-Sport machinery secured two double podiums in Italy – Simone Romagna and Luciano Cobbe finishing first and third at Ronde Balcone delle Marche, and Paolo Porro and Luigi Fontana securing the same feat at Rally Die Valli – all at the wheel of the Ford Focus RS WRC.

M-Sport Managing Director, Malcolm Wilson OBE, said:

"It is fair to say that last week saw a very impressive weekend for M-Sport. What Mark [Cronje] achieved as a privateer in South Africa is nothing short of sensational.

"I was lucky enough to be in South Africa for one of Mark's victories and I can say first hand that he is truly deserving of the crown. He has taken more than 50 per cent of the stage wins throughout the season and – given that the South African stages are so diverse and that a number of these were secured whilst consolidating a lead on the final day – it is mightily impressive.
"The whole M-Sport team sends a big congratulations to Mark and Robin [Houghton, co-driver] and look forward to further successes in 2014."