The first appearance of Belgium’s storied Ypres Rally on the World Rally Championship calendar saw the M-Sport Ford World Rally Team stars Gus Greensmith and co-driver Chris Patterson reach the finish line in their Ecoboost-powered Ford Fiesta after showing some promising speed on the concluding day of the event.
After two days spent in the undulating farmland around Flanders, the rally moved almost 300 km south to the historic Spa-Francorchamps circuit where the crews had to tackle the celebrated flat-out challenge of the Eau Rouge/Raidillon curves, a gravel section and the local roads around the home of the Belgian Grand Prix in blazing sunshine.
Greensmith acquitted himself admirably, setting fifth fastest time through the first stage of the day and then settled in to ensure that he maintained his position as the seventh WRC car home at the end of the rally.
The M-Sport Ford World Rally Team now prepares to move from the smooth asphalt of the Belgian event to the roughest and toughest gravel event in Europe, Greece’s historic Acropolis Rally, which will be held on September 9-12. This is an event in which Ford has claimed 17 victories dating back to 1966, the most recent of which coming as a round of the European Rally Championship in 2017, when an M-Sport built Ford Fiesta R5 triumphed.
M-Sport Team Principal, Richard Millener, said:
“Gus did everything that was asked of him today, and we were delighted to see that opening stage time of the day to illustrate the true pace of the Fiesta and the level of experience and confidence that he has been able to accumulate in his first appearance on the rally.
“As a team, it is difficult to feel overjoyed when only one car crossed the finish line after you started four cars across the two principal categories taking part this weekend. But Ypres really is impossible to describe to those who have not yet competed on the event and it really is a case of learning each corner of each mile covered.
“Having had two cars in the top five already this season, on the Safari, and with the kind of performance that we know the Ford Fiesta Rally2 has shown on this event, it can only be described as a tough event for us. Nevertheless, we move forward from here and can look towards competing on familiar territory through the next segment of the season and I am sure that many valuable lessons have been learnt.”
Gus Greensmith said:
“It wasn’t a good weekend for sure. It was my mistake on Friday that really took us out of contention this time. It was hard to find a rhythm after that and I wasn’t really where I wanted to be but that can often be the case when you are not in a fight with anyone. We learned a significant amount about this rally and we got the car home in one piece. Thank you to the team as ever for their hard work, they always do the best they can.”