M-Sport Ford World Rally Team secured the very first WRC 2 Pro victory at last month’s Rallye Monte-Carlo and will return to the snow-covered stages of Rally Sweden with two EcoBoost-powered Ford Fiesta R5s for Gus Greensmith and Łukasz Pieniążek.
Greensmith made history when he became the first WRC 2 Pro winner last month, but the Brit will face a fresh challenge when he tackles a classic snow rally for only the second time in his career.
The Mancurian first took to the white stuff in 2017 when he secured fifth place in the WRC 2 category. Having developed his skills over the past two years, Greensmith will be keen to show his potential against some of the championship’s most experienced snow specialists next week.
Getting his season underway next week, Pieniążek also has limited experience on snow when compared to others in the WRC 2 Pro category. The Pole did however finish eighth overall when contesting last year’s Arctic Rally Lapland, and has been working hard in the lead up to his debut with the Fiesta R5.
Getting to grips with M-Sport and Ford’s most successful global rally car whilst improving his skills on the ice, Pieniążek conducted a comprehensive test in Estonia to familiarise himself with the high-speed sensation that only comes with studded tyres, ice and snow.
The two crews might not have the same experience as their rivals when it comes to winter rallying, but the Fiesta is a proven winner – securing all but one WRC 2 victory on snow and ice since the category was introduced in 2013.
Gus Greensmith said:
“It took a while for my first win to sink in and I’ll admit to having to pinch myself a few times after being called a Monte winner! But this sport doesn’t wait for you to savour the moment and my mind quickly turned to Rally Sweden where I hope to go for another strong result.
“I have very little experience of this event and the driving style needed for winter rallying, so our pre-event test will be particularly important for our preparation. We’ve only got one day so we will have to be really focused and productive to try and get everything done.
“The route is pretty similar to last year so I have also spent countless hours studying the onboard videos to make sure that I am as prepared as I can be. I still don’t have a lot of experience on snow, but hopefully that will go some way to making up for it and I am definitely going to give it my all.
“It will be tough against the guys who have grown up on snow, but I have a great team around me and I feel at the top of my game – so we have every chance of continuing to challenge at the top.”
Łukasz Pieniążek said:
“This will be my second start in Sweden and only my third with a four-wheel-drive car on snow. I don't have a lot of experience in these conditions, but I really enjoy them.
“To prepare, we had a good three-day test in Estonia where we completed around 450 kilometres and got a good feeling with the Fiesta and a good understanding of how it handles in these snowy conditions. We’ll have another test with the team on Monday and I’m really looking forward to the rally.
“I really like driving on snow. The studded tyres give great grip but it does take some getting used to which is pretty challenging. Then there are the snowbanks. You don't want to get stuck in one of them so it's important to be really precise – especially in the narrow sections.
“My number one goal is to give my best and go as fast as we can. It will be our first rally with the new team and with a new car so let's see what we can do.
“The recce will be very important to understand the conditions and choose the right setup. If we do that, then I'm sure we'll have lots of fun on some of the most beautiful stages on the calendar.”
Team Principal, Richard Millener, said:
“Gus and Łukasz don’t have a massive amount of experience on snow, and they’ll be going up against three guys who have winter rallying in their blood. It will be difficult to replicate our Monte-Carlo victory, but we’re certainly up for the challenge.
“Both drivers are capable of a WRC 2 Pro podium and the Fiesta has a pretty impressive record when it comes to Rally Sweden – securing all but one WRC 2 victory in the past six years! The competition will be tough, but we’ve got the potential to spring a few surprises and will be working hard to do just that.”