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After a stunning weekend-long display from M-Sport’s rising star, Adrien Fourmaux and co-driver Alexandre Coria claim their maiden WRC podium on Rally Sweden. Fourmaux reaches this career milestone on only his fourth time competing on snow and ice.

M-Sport Ford World Rally Team celebrates Fourmaux’s fantastic and long-awaited third overall finish after five seasons of learning and support within the team. Since his debut in the WRC’s top-flight in 2021, Fourmaux has fought relentlessly for this moment, taking on each and every challenge facing him to finally take his place on the podium in Sweden.

Much like his outstanding season-opening performance in Monte-Carlo, Fourmaux has had a near faultless weekend in Sweden. In what now reveals itself as a positive signal of what was to come, Fourmaux’s overall second-fastest time in Shakedown kicked off the action in a positive manner. The evening’s fan-favourite Umeå sprint stage brought spectacular snow and fire action, alongside a fourth-fastest stage time for the Frenchman.

With bolstered confidence, Fourmaux took on Friday with quiet determination and a calculated approach. Tough weather conditions dictated the day, as snow and freezing rain fell in droves resulting in an accumulation of around 10cm of loose snow on most stages. Despite his relative lack of experience on snow and ice, Fourmaux was one of few to avoid trouble entirely, and was rewarded with a third-fastest time on SS4. His tactfulness saw him in a close battle with Elfyn Evans, fighting for positions and eventually Fourmaux found himself ahead of Evans and fourth overall at the end of the day.

Setting Saturday’s precedent, Fourmaux would advance himself to third overall after the day’s opening stage despite struggling with low-grip. As ex-rally and championship winners started to struggle around him, Fourmaux moved up into second overall after trouble for Katsuta on SS9. This was followed by a sensational stage win on SS11, marking Fourmaux’s first stage win since Rally Catalunya 2022 and hopefully the first of many in 2024.

Remaining cool, calm and collected, Fourmaux delivered strong stage times all afternoon whilst managing his tyres and the degrading road conditions exceptionally. Focus would shift on retaining second overall to the day’s end, securing the now crucially-important Saturday provisional points. Setting further top-three times in the afternoon loop, and successfully keeping Evans at bay despite a nail-biting moment with a snow bank in the day’s final stage, Fourmaux arrived into end of day service sitting second overall and collecting 15 points ahead of Sunday.

With a strong margin around the podium spots, Fourmaux was clear on Sunday’s goal: get the car back safely and secure his first WRC podium. Keeping a sensible pace and taking no risks on the morning’s high-speed opening stage, Fourmaux found his place in third overall and would carefully maintain this all the way to the final time control and thus mark a momentous date in his rallying career. His overall position on Sunday would reward him with an additional three points, and he now finds himself third in the championship standings.

Grégoire Munster and William Creighton would also gain considerable experience and show determined pace and skill during their weekends in Sweden. Munster, competing his second WRC event on snow in Sweden, would fight unfamiliarly low grip levels and put himself to the test in what he called some of the hardest driving conditions he’d ever experienced. Unfortunately dropping time early on in SS4 after a tyre delamination, followed by a tricky wheel change in sub-zero temperatures, Munster would struggle through fresh loose snow all afternoon on Friday to finish the day 10th overall.

Saturday saw a steady day for the Luxembourg driver, enjoying his challenges and appreciating the beauty of the stages whilst consistently setting top-ten times despite his disadvantageous road position. The Umeå sprint stage that evening unfortunately saw Munster and co-driver Louka stuck in a snowbank around two-thirds of the way through the stage. Their determination to finish every stage of the rally however motivated them to dig the car out of the snow and finish the stage, dropping them over 14 minutes and falling to 28th overall. Munster went back out on Sunday, pushing to keep up with teammate Fourmaux’s stage times, clawing back five positions to end his weekend 23rd overall with a significant amount of new knowledge and stories to take home.

Creighton’s weekend was just as eventful as Munster’s, as the Irish winner of 2023’s Junior WRC and co-driver Liam Regan increased their learning of the Fiesta Rally2. Further back in the running order, conditions were often very rough on the stages but the pair would consistently set top 15 times in the highly competitive WRC2 class. A double puncture on Friday’s penultimate stage dropped Creighton considerable time, but he would compensate with an eighth-fastest time on the Umeå sprint stage. A spin on Saturday’s SS10 saw him stuck in a snowbank, but the pair dug themselves out and continued the weekend stress-free. Creighton would finish his first Rally Sweden in the Fiesta Rally2 14th in class and 26th overall.

Malcolm Wilson, Managing Director, said:

“This has been such a special event for the whole team. The message to Adrien today was clear: Bring home the podium result! He continued to show great maturity, driving sensibly through the stages to secure a very well deserved third place. I have been so impressed by his mentality and confidence this weekend and I am looking forward to seeing what else he can achieve with us this year now this career milestone has been reached.

“Both Grégoire and Louis in the Rally1, and William and Liam in the Rally2, achieved exactly what was asked of them by completing all the stages of this specialist rally without any major issues. They faced a steep learning curve with the conditions they faced on Friday, and had their fair share of moments to learn from, but both showed some strong pace across the event that they can be pleased with.”

Adrien Fourmaux, Third Overall, said:

“Really great to get my first podium at the top level in Sweden, my fourth rally on snow and the second of the 2024 season. We are now third in the championship, which is really positive and gives a lot of confidence and motivation to the whole team who have been working really hard. We can be really proud that we’re working all together, and it’s been working perfectly. We want now to just enjoy the podium, it’s been brilliant, and hopefully there are more podiums coming!”

Grégoire Munster, 23rd Overall, said:

“We learned a lot here in Sweden and improved throughout the weekend. The gaps per kilometre were getting smaller and smaller, and that was the goal. Unfortunately we made the small mistake on Saturday evening, but getting stuck in a snowbank is part of the experience of Rally Sweden! I think every driver who has done the rally has had that experience at some time. It was unfortunate as it makes extra work for the mechanics, but they fixed everything so it could go again on Sunday to give us even more experience, which I’m very glad to have had.”

William Creighton, 14th WRC2, 26th Overall, said:

“I’m happy to get all the kilometres in and to get to the finish. I’ve learned a lot and I just need to keep working on my side with the driving to try and get the most out of these cars. It’s not going to happen overnight so I just need to keep working on it.

“It’s been great working with M-Sport, with the support of the Motorsport Ireland Academy, here at Rally Sweden and it has been so much fun with these conditions. The last two weekends have been very different and I’m really looking forward to the next event to try to keep on improving and see where we go.”

Published 18 January 2024


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