M-Sport Ford World Rally Team’s EcoBoost-powered Ford Fiesta WRCs had the pace to challenge for the top positions this weekend, but the squad were unable to show that speed today – Teemu Suninen and Elfyn Evans disadvantaged by their start position.
When Dani Sordo and Sébastien Loeb fell down the running order in a strategy to support team mate Thierry Neuville, the Fiestas were left opening the road – sweeping a clean line through the morning’s loose gravel and having to contend with the worst of the narrow ruts throughout the afternoon.
Gus Greensmith had been delivering an impressive debut behind the wheel of the top-specification Fiesta. Not many people can say that they beat Sébastien Loeb and Sébastien Ogier on their first competitive stage with a world rally car, but the young Brit can.
He continued to gain vital knowledge and experience of the sport’s highest level today, before making a small mistake on the very final stage and becoming stuck off the road. The team will repair his Fiesta this evening, and the 22-year-old will be back out to impress tomorrow.
Team Principal, Richard Millener, said:
“It’s been a tough one for us today. With Elfyn and Teemu opening the road there wasn’t too much we could do to be honest, but they made it through and I’m sure they’ll both be looking forward to Fafe tomorrow.
“We’ve all been really impressed with Gus this weekend, so it was a shame to see him make that small mistake in the final stage. He’s really impressed a lot of people with his speed, and we’ll make sure he’s back out tomorrow for more of the same.”
Teemu Suninen (6th) said:
“It was a difficult day running early on the road. The driving was on an okay level, but we still lost some time to the other drivers so it wasn’t as good as yesterday!”
Elfyn Evans (7th) said:
“Being first on the road for the majority of the day made it pretty difficult for us. Obviously there was quite a lot of cleaning today so it was just a case of making it through without any problems. Tomorrow we just need to do more of the same and if the feeling is good we can have a look at some points in the Power Stage.”
Gus Greensmith (15th) said:
“We wanted to be closer to the pace today, and that’s what we did – trading times with Elfyn and Teemu on only my second day in a world rally car. I felt as though we were getting better with every kilometre, so it was a shame about that last stage. I just missed my braking, slid wide and hit a tree with the rear. It was a silly mistake, but I can’t be too upset because at the end of the day I was still driving a world rally car – and that’s awesome!”
1. Ott Tänak / Martin Järveoja (Toyota Yaris WRC) 2:47:23.1
2. Kris Meeke / Sebastian Marshall (Toyota Yaris WRC) +4.3
3. Thierry Neuville / Nicolas Gilsoul (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC) +9.2
4. Sébastien Ogier / Julien Ingrassia (Citroen C3 WRC) +21.0
5. Esapekka Lappi / Janne Ferme (Citroen C3 WRC) +1:37.5
6. Teemu Suninen / Marko Salminen (Ford Fiesta WRC) +2:02.7
7. Elfyn Evans / Scott Martin (Ford Fiesta WRC) +6:10.4
15. Gus Greensmith / Elliott Edmondson (Ford Fiesta WRC) +12:53.3