M-Sport Ford World Rally Team’s EcoBoost-powered Ford Fiesta WRCs excelled at this weekend’s Croatia Rally – Adrien Fourmaux delivering an impressive drive to fifth place on his inaugural event at the highest level of competition, and Gus Greensmith showcasing a vast improvement in seventh.
Considered by many as the driver of the weekend, Fourmaux produced a sensational performance on his FIA World Rally Championship debut with the top-specification Fiesta. Already challenging the established elite, nine top-five stage times included two second-fastest times, and the young Frenchman displayed all the hallmarks of a future star.
Identifying where to push and where to be more cautious in their approach, he and co-driver Renaud Jamoul delivered the perfect balance between speed and consistency. And even when they made a small mistake this morning – running wide on cold tyres and losing over a minute beached off the road – they remained calm and were straight back on the pace to consolidate a very impressive and well-deserved fifth-place finish.
Gus Greensmith has also had an extremely positive weekend – delivering his best drive of the season so far. A world rally car is fuelled by confidence as much as anything else, and the young Brit has taken a lot of confidence from the introduction of experienced co-driver Chris Patterson.
Looking more comfortable behind the wheel, the young Brit produced a more assured drive and considerably reduced the gap to the leaders with a string of competitive stage times including the fourth fastest time through yesterday afternoon’s opening speed test.
A hydraulic issue this morning meant he had to forgo a deserved sixth place, but the youngster is enjoying his driving again – something which has always been vital in pursuit of the top times.
Elsewhere in the WRC 2 category, Teemu Suninen and Mikko Markkula delivered a stage-winning performance to bring their EcoBoost-powered Ford Fiesta Rally2 home in second place overall.
Were it not for an off-road excursion through the opening day of competition, the Finns would have had victory in their grasp – but regrouped to secure a positive result whilst proving the power and performance of M-Sport Ford’s latest global rally car.
Team Principal, Richard Millener, said:
“When you actually stop and think about what Adrien has achieved this weekend, it’s mightily impressive. Four years ago he hadn’t even driven a rally car – and now he’s challenging, and on some stages out-performing, the guys he grew up watching!
“We saw Adrien’s potential very early on, but I think he surpassed even his own expectations this weekend. He and Renaud work so well together and there’s an awareness of everything they do. They know when to push and where to be more cautious; and even when they made a mistake this morning, there was no panic or stress – they just picked themselves up and got straight back on the pace.
“It’s been a very impressive debut, and you can certainly see a resemblance to Ogier in the way he conducts himself. The future of the sport is looking pretty good, and I’m really looking forward to seeing how he progresses with more time in the car.
“Gus too has delivered a really good drive this weekend, and it’s been great to see the positive impact Chris [Patterson, co-driver] is already having in the car. Gus looks the most relaxed he’s been all year, and it’s showing on the stages.
“He’s enjoying his driving again and we’ve seen some very encouraging times from him this weekend. It was a shame he had some technical issues this morning, but when you analyse his performance the speed is there and I have no doubt that he will take the positives away from this weekend and work with Chris to deliver another improvement in Portugal – his favourite event of the year.
“In the WRC 2 category we also saw a strong drive from Teemu and Mikko. It was a stage-winning performance from the pair of them, and without that small mistake on Friday it could have easily been a rally-winning performance!
“Let’s not forget how competitive this category is with rally winners all vying for the top results alongside some of the sport’s most promising up-and-coming young drivers – and Teemu held his pace and the pace of the Fiesta against them all.”
Adrien Fourmaux (5th) said:
“I’m so happy with our weekend and the only disappointment is that the rally is now over! It’s been a big challenge on the Croatian roads but I have enjoyed every kilometre; and taken a lot of pleasure from driving this car on these stages.
“We showed good speed throughout the weekend and honestly there were more positives than we had been expecting. We improved our pace a lot and I achieved all of my goals and more.
“I want to say a big thank you to everyone in the team, and I am so grateful to M-Sport and Red Bull for this incredible opportunity – and to everyone who has supported me over the past four years.”
Gus Greensmith (7th) said:
“The majority of the weekend has been pretty positive, and I was really happy to see the turnaround from where I was in Monte to where I am now. There’s still some time to be found, but I can see a clear way forward and everything seems to be working well.
“I was fairly confident of maintaining sixth place today, so it was a shame to lose that with the technical issues this morning. But all in all, I’ve really enjoyed the weekend and looking forward to seeing what we can do at one of my favourite events next time out in Portugal.”
Teemu Suninen (2nd WRC 2) said:
“It’s been a really challenging rally but in the end I would say that our performance was pretty good. We didn’t get a test in dry conditions so we had to learn a lot through the early stages. It was a shame to have lost some time with a mistake on Friday, but we found a way to drive fast and show the performance of the car which was good.”