M-Sport Ford World Rally Team’s Esapekka Lappi and Janne Ferm bought their EcoBoost-powered Ford Fiesta WRC home in fourth place at this weekend’s ACI Rally Monza – equalling their best result of the season.
Just as Teemu Suninen did last time out at Rally Italia Sardegna, Lappi proved that the Fiesta still has the pace to fight for the top results – leading the rally through the early stages and challenging for the win on the final, action-packed event of the year.
Combining his circuit-racing experience with some inspired tyre choices throughout the weekend, the Flying Finn was battling at the sharp end before luck played its hand and a series of small mistakes saw him fall from the fight at the front.
Unable to make the most of his superior tyre choice through the snow-covered mountain stages, and taking the wrong compound for this morning’s opener, the podium positions slipped out of his grasp; but the Finn should remain proud of his performance this weekend.
In the WRC 2 category, Adrien Fourmaux and Renaud Jamoul also had the pace to secure victory – claiming seven out of a possible 14 stage wins with the EcoBoost-powered Ford Fiesta Rally2.
The pairing had secured a commanding lead, but a puncture followed by a spin which damaged the suspension saw them relegated to fourth place.
Regrouping for the final day of competition, Fourmaux was back on the pace and set the sixth fastest time overall on the opening stage – bettering the efforts of numerous world rally cars.
Team Principal, Richard Millener, said:
“We had the pace to win the rally and the WRC 2 class this weekend, so there is an element of disappointment; but we can still take a lot of confidence away from this performance and everyone can be really proud of what we’ve achieved over the last two rallies especially.
"It’s no secret that this has been a tough year for M-Sport and we’re not in the same position as the other teams – so to lead two rallies on the bounce is pretty impressive.
“I also want to say a big thanks to everyone at the FIA, WRC Promotor and event organisers who worked tirelessly to ensure we could finish the season with seven events. Every rally has been exciting to watch, and I’ve personally enjoyed watching the action unfold.”
Esapekka Lappi (4th) said:
“This was a good weekend for us and we can be pleased with our performance. It was good to be back on Tarmac, and good to see that we can be competitive in these tricky conditions.
“Things didn’t always go our way and we were quite unlucky at times, but I was very happy with my driving and we proved that we can be up there fighting at the top.
“A big thanks to everyone who has supported us throughout the year, and to the FIA, WRC Promotor and event organisers for ensuring we could finish the season and continue rallying in these difficult times.”
Adrien Fourmaux (4th WRC 2) said:
“I think it was a good rally for us. Of course we are a little disappointed about yesterday’s mistake as we had the performance to win here this weekend – but we had good pace and showed many things for the future.
“On the whole, it was a very good season. We learnt a lot and were strong on all of the rallies which was very good. I also want to say a big thanks to the team for all of their support and hard work – and I hope I can be back working with them again next year.”