M-Sport Ford World Rally Team got their 2020 FIA World Rally Championship off to a tough start this evening, but new-boy Esapekka Lappi made the most of the situation to bring his EcoBoost-powered Ford Fiesta WRC home in sixth place overall.
Overheating as leaves became caught in the grill and prevented necessary airflow through the stage, all three Fiestas lost time but Lappi persevered. Completing the day a minute down on the leader may ordinarily seem like a lot, but this is Monte-Carlo and there is always all to play for!
Elsewhere however, Teemu Suninen was forced to retire with a transmission failure through the second stage before Gus Greensmith lost over a minute with a turbo issue. Whilst Greensmith made it back to service, Suninen was forced to retire and M-Sport’s team of technicians will work through the night to ensure his is back on the stages tomorrow.
In the WRC 2 Championship, the team got off to a much stronger start – Adrien Fourmaux powering his EcoBoost-powered Ford Fiesta R5 MkII to an early lead with a stunning time through the opening speed test.
Showcasing the power and performance of M-Sport’s latest global rally car, the Frenchman was a massive 5.2 seconds faster than anyone else – only for his hard work to be undone on the very next stage. Picking up a front-right puncture, he lost more than three minutes along with his lead.
Team Principal, Richard Millener, said:
“This definitely isn’t the start we wanted. Everyone talks about needing a little bit of luck on an event like this and we definitely haven’t had that this evening. I can’t remember the last time we had an issue with a turbo, and it looks as though Teemu was pretty unfortunate too.
“We need to find a solution for the overheating issues we suffered through the opening stage, but the engineers have been working on that and we hope it won’t be too much of an issue through the remainder of the event. Esapekka is still just a minute off the lead and, while that might sound like a lot, I think we all know that anything can still happen!
“In the WRC 2 Championship Adrien was brilliant through the opening stage. He really put a marker down and showed everyone what he’s here to do this season. It was a great time, against drivers with a lot more experience. Of course it’s a shame that he picked up a puncture on the second stage, but he’s still smiling and I think we will see a fair bit from him this year!”