M-Sport Ford World Rally Team’s Esapekka Lappi and Janne Ferm are chasing a career-best result at this weekend’s Rallye Monte-Carlo, but the Finns were keen for more on their FIA World Rally Championship debut with the EcoBoost-powered Ford Fiesta WRC.
Currently holding fifth place, the pairing had hoped to move closer to the leading pack but were unable to make their mark through the dirt-strewn stages. Showing flashes of speed, the team know that Lappi has huge potential behind the wheel of the top-specification Fiesta and will look for improvements when the action resumes tomorrow.
Restarting this morning, Teemu Suninen and Jarmo Lehtinen struggled to commit through the opening speed tests but as the conditions became more consistent over the afternoon loop, Suninen’s pace improved significantly and he posted a number of fastest split times.
There was however less good fortune for Gus Greensmith and Elliott Edmondson as their day came to an untimely end on the opening stage. Their Fiesta became stuck in a ditch following a slow-speed spin, but the technicians have made a full repair and the Brits will be back out tomorrow.
In the WRC 2 category, Adrien Fourmaux and Renaud Jamoul started where they left off yesterday evening – challenging for the lead with a string of fastest stage times. Showcasing the power and performance of his EcoBoost-powered Ford Fiesta R5 MkII, the young Frenchman claimed four of the day’s six fastest times and was on course to recover the lead before a second puncture through the second pass of ‘Curbans – Venterol’ (SS6).
Team Principal, Richard Millener, said:
“We’re still not where we want to be, but you can see in some of the splits that the speed is there. We’re just losing too much to the top guys in some of the trickier sections and need to understand why that is. The potential is there and we know what Esapekka and Teemu are capable of – we just need to keep at it and hopefully we’ll see an improvement tomorrow.
“Elsewhere in WRC 2, we’ve seen another impressive performance from Adrien. Setting the fastest time through four of today’s six stages he continues to prove his speed as well as the performance of the Fiesta R5 MkII; and I think he’s going to be one to watch as the season continues.”
Esapekka Lappi (5th) said:
“It has been quite a tough day for us. We’re learning a lot of new things, but still we were expecting to be a bit closer. We wanted to close the gap, but we’ve been consistently losing the same amount to the top guys stage after stage. We’ll work with the team to understand where we’re losing and how to find a solution, and hopefully we can be better tomorrow.”
Teemu Suninen (16th) said:
“After what happened yesterday, today was just about driving through the stages and getting the experience. It was tricky with the conditions this morning as they had changed quite a lot from when the route note crews went through, but it was better this afternoon and we were able to make some different choices with the tyres which should give us good knowledge for the future.”