M-Sport Ford World Rally Team’s Gus Greensmith and Elliott Edmondson secured a career-best result at this weekend’s Rally Turkey, the young Brits bringing their EcoBoost-powered Ford Fiesta WRC home in a creditable fifth place overall.
Known as the roughest event in the FIA World Rally Championship, the Turkish fixture demands a unique blend of speed and caution – and that’s something Greensmith mastered whilst gaining vital knowledge and experience for the future.
Third fastest through the first run of Shakedown, the young Brit had already hinted at what he might be capable of this weekend. And as others faltered, he gave the stages the respect they demand to bring home a strong top-five finish.
New to the team this year, it took some kilometres for Esapekka Lappi and Janne Ferme to get to grips with the top-specification Fiesta on rough terrain. Discovering the optimum setup, the pairing got quicker as the weekend wore on and set some positive splits through today’s closing kilometres.
On par with the leaders through both passes of Çetibeli (SS9 / SS11), the Finn was on course for another good result – only to pick up a puncture through both stages. A damaged damper then prevented the Finns from mounting a challenge through the Power Stage, and they ended the event in sixth place overall.
Having delivered a solid performance throughout the weekend, Teemu Suninen and Jarmo Lehtinen had their sights on another top finish this weekend – and as the final-day drama unfolded a second podium of the year was a real possibility.
Unfortunately, the young Finn would also suffer at the hands of the Çetibeli stage (SS9). Despite having the better of his rival, Suninen suffered a broken rear-left damper which forced him into an underserved retirement.
Elsewhere in the support series, the Ford Fiesta Rally2 was proving its strength, and that strength was giving the Fiesta drivers confidence through the rock-strewn stages – Adrien Fourmaux and reigning FIA Junior WRC Champion Jan Solans half a minute quicker than anyone else on today’s opening speed test.
Fourmaux posted another fastest time through the second pass of Çetibeli (SS11) to take his WRC 2 tally to six out of 12, and secured second place in both the WRC 2 category and RC2 class – ruing yesterday’s puncture and penalty which cost him what would have been a commanding victory.
Team Principal, Richard Millener, said:
“We can’t help but feel a little disappointed after this one. The chain of events after Teemu retired meant that we would have probably been in second place which would have been fantastic. But of course these things happen, and we just need to accept that this wasn’t our weekend.
“We don’t want to make excuses, but obviously it is difficult when you don’t test for these events and Turkey is completely different to what we experienced in Estonia. That puts us on the back foot, and it took Esapekka and Gus a while to get to grips with the setup this weekend.
“But that’s the position we’re in. We cannot change it, but one thing is for sure – we will continue to always give 100 percent; and there were some positives today. Esapekka was setting some really good splits on par with the leaders before he picked up his punctures on the long stage, and Gus delivered a really mature drive to secure his best ever result.
“In the WRC 2 category, Adrien also delivered a really impressive drive on his first outing here in Turkey. It was a really strong performance from him – showcasing the strength and power of the Fiesta Rally2. In fact were it not for yesterday’s time loss he would have delivered a commanding victory, and I don’t think that first win is too far away!”
Gus Greensmith (5th) said:
“I’m pretty pleased at the end of this one and happy with how our weekend panned out. That long stage today was so rough, and considering where we were I decided that caution was the better act of valour. That turned out to be the right decision – it worked out, and we come away from this weekend with our best ever result.
“I was hoping that we would be able to transfer our Shakedown pace to the rally, but without a pre-event test that proved difficult and we still made a lot of improvements over the course of the weekend – so a big thanks to the team for that. And I think I’ve also made an improvement inside the car. Whereas I might have just sent it once upon a time, I’m now focused on being mistake-free and getting the mileage under my belt – and the confidence will come with that.”
Esapekka Lappi (6th) said:
“It’s always a challenge coming here, but I think you also need a little bit of luck and that wasn’t really on our side today. That long stage is the roughest of the weekend and we got a puncture on both passes through there. The first one was quite early on so we had to stop and change, and the second was about five kilometres from the end.
“It was a shame because the times on both passes of that stage were actually looking pretty good. We’d made quite a few changes throughout the weekend, and it looked as though everything was starting to come together. So hopefully that’s all good information that we can take forward to Sardinia in two weeks times.”
Teemu Suninen (DNF) said:
“It’s really disappointing how we had to end the day as I think we could have achieved another good result this weekend. I would say that we were quite unlucky. There were so many big rocks on the stage and so many people having problems – unfortunately for us, our problem was quite a big one as the damper was completely broken and it meant that we couldn’t continue.
“It’s a shame because I think we were driving well and the time looked pretty okay too. We’ve still learnt a lot this weekend, and it’s all good practice for Sardinia where we’ll try again to close the gap and bring home a good result for the team.
“And there was some good news from today as we found out that my engineer Callum has become a father for the very first time – so I would like to say a big congratulations to him and his girlfriend.”
Adrien Fourmaux (2nd WRC 2) said:
“I’m quite satisfied with our performance this weekend as it was a big challenge on our first time here. Obviously it’s disappointing about the puncture and the time loss yesterday because we had the performance to secure the win here this weekend. But that’s rallying, and we know we showed good pace and proved the potential of the car. Big thanks to the team as always, and let’s try again for the top spot in Sardinia!”