M-Sport Ford World Rally Team’s Adrien Fourmaux and Renaud Jamoul continue to deliver a formidable performance on their FIA World Rally Championship debut with the EcoBoost-powered Ford Fiesta WRC.
Second only to the young Frenchman’s rally hero, Sébastien Ogier, through today’s opening speed test, the pairing are already proving themselves capable of challenging the established elite.
Focussing their attentions on the first stage of the loop, they posted the second fastest time on both visits to the 20-kilometre stage – and were denied the fastest time by just 1.1 seconds over this afternoon’s pass.
Combining this indication of their potential with a more measured approach to the remaining speed tests, the Franco-Belgian partnership are on course to secure fifth place overall – a feat thus far achieved with seven top-five stage times.
Gus Greensmith is also enjoying an impressive drive this weekend. And despite struggling to match yesterday’s confidence this morning, the young Brit was quick to turn things around – validation once again of the positive impact Chris Patterson is having in the car.
Second fastest through the opening five-kilometre split section, Greensmith went on to post the fourth fastest time through the afternoon’s opening stage. And having considerably reduced the deficit to the leaders, the Brit is on course to secure his best result of the year in sixth place overall.
Elsewhere in the WRC 2 category, Teemu Suninen and Mikko Markkula are up to second place behind the wheel of their EcoBoost-powered Ford Fiesta Rally2 and relishing an intense battle over tomorrow’s closing stages.
There was however less good news for Tom Kristensson and David Arhusiander whose rally came to an untimely end with a small mistake on the first stage of the day.
Sustaining too much damage the FIA Junior WRC Champion’s Ford Fiesta Rally2 was retired from the event, but the young Swede should take solace from the impressive pace shown on his debut with the four-wheel-drive Fiesta.
Team Principal, Richard Millener, said:
“We’ve seen another fantastic drive from Adrien and Renaud today. I said yesterday that their performance was exactly what we wanted to see, and they’ve surpassed that today. There’s no doubting Adrien’s talent behind the wheel, and watching the way the two of them work I can already see glimpses of Seb [Ogier] and Julian [Ingrassia]. They have an awareness of everything they do – targeting where to show their pace, and where to be more cautious – and it’s certainly paying off this weekend.
“Gus has also had another really good day, and it’s great to see the positive influence Chris’ experience is bringing to the car. Gus will be the first to admit that he struggled to find his rhythm this morning and could have easily got himself into a bit of a rut. But he had a complete reset over lunch and came out to set the second fastest time through the afternoon’s opening split and fourth fastest overall. He was enjoying his driving again, and as we’ve always said – when a driver enjoys his driving, the times will come.
“Teemu has also had a strong day in WRC 2 with another stage-winning performance behind the wheel of the Ford Fiesta Rally2. He’s in a big battle tomorrow over some very tricky stages, but he’s up for the fight and keen to bring home the best possible result.
“Unfortunately, we didn’t see much of Tom today as he had quite a high-speed off on the opening stage – putting an end to his weekend’s rallying. I know how intensely he feels the disappointment, but it’s really important that he puts it behind him and tries to focus on the positives – of which there are many. This was his debut in the four-wheel-drive Fiesta and his pace through those initial stages was very impressive.”
Adrien Fourmaux (5th) said:
“This has been a perfect day for us and I’m really happy with how everything has gone. We really focused on the first stage of the loop which is an amazing piece of road and so enjoyable to drive – especially the downhill section towards the end where it feels just like you’re skiing from left to right.
“We worked more on this stage than any of the others and it was great to see that when we really focus the pace can already be right at the top. Then on the other stages we were being a lot more careful as it’s easy to make a mistake.
“There have already been more positives than we expected this weekend, and I’m really, really happy with that. All of my targets have already been achieved, and I’m just sad that we only have one more day to drive this amazing car!”
Gus Greensmith (6th) said:
“It was a bit frustrating this morning when we weren’t quite on the same pace we had yesterday. To be fair, the car has been really good all weekend but I was just struggling a bit with the notes and adjusting to not having as much information in there.
“But all I needed was a bit of a reset, which came from three people in the team – and I’m sure you can guess who those three were! They told me just to enjoy myself a bit more and stop complaining when the time isn’t quite there.
“And they’re so right – I’m still doing the best job in the world and as soon as I relaxed everything felt a lot better and we set some much better times this afternoon.”
Teemu Suninen (2nd WRC 2) said:
“This is quite a tricky rally but I’m really enjoying the challenge. Today has been good and we’ve had a good feeling in the car with some top times, but it’s going to be a tough day tomorrow with a really big fight. It’s a proper day with narrow stages and big crests, and we will need to push hard to keep the second position. But this is what we plan to do and I will just try to do my best.”
Tom Kristensson (DNF) said:
“This isn’t the start to the season that we wanted, and I’m so sorry for the mistake I made today. We had a small issue with the pacenotes at the beginning of the stage. We found our pace again, but I was struggling with my focus and it was a millisecond of lost concentration that resulted in quite a heavy crash. The car is quite badly damaged, but the most important thing is that me and David are both okay.
“It was completely my fault and I’m really, really sorry for the team. I was living a dream, and it turned into a nightmare – but these things can happen and I know that I need to put it behind me and focus on the positives to come back stronger. I’m sorry that I didn’t show my full potential this weekend, but I hope we can come back and prove it at the next rally.
“I want to say a big thank you to everyone who is following me on this journey, and to the team who have been brilliant to work with this weekend. Good luck to Adrien, Gus and Teemu – and I hope they can all bring home a good team result tomorrow.”