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NEWS

M-SPORT CREWS KEEPING COOL HEADS FOR RALLY SWEDEN

After an impressive start to the season on the opening round at Rallye Monte-Carlo, M-Sport Ford World Rally Team re-centres itself ahead of Rally Sweden, undoubtedly one of the most challenging rallies of the 2024 World Rally Championship.


As the only full snow-and-ice rally in the entire season, Rally Sweden is always a unique adventure. One of the oldest rallies in the world, Rally Sweden’s first iteration was back in 1950, and remains an iconic and fan-favourite rally on the WRC calendar.


Famously dominated by Nordic natives due to the demanding and very particular driving style required to succeed, Sweden’s surfaces will undeniably put M-Sport’s mainland-European crews to the ultimate test. Despite being a full-snow surface event, conditions are still highly changeable as temperatures alter the road itself as well as the surrounding snowbanks. Often reliably helping crews round tighter corners, snowbanks can become deceptively dangerous in higher temperatures and risk trapping crews within their folds.


Tyre management remains crucial as ever, especially during the afternoon loop when exposed gravel can rip the studs from crews’ snow tyres, leaving them with significantly reduced traction.


Adrien Fourmaux started his season on top-form during Rallye Monte-Carlo, claiming an excellent fifth overall after a faultless weekend. He will look to bring this same approach to Sweden, where he has experience in both the Rally1 and WRC2 categories. His last outing on snow in the Puma in 2022 saw him set a handful of top-five stage times and he will look to benefit from a favourable starting position next week.


Grégoire Munster will take on his second Rally Sweden, after his debut last year in the Junior category behind the wheel of a Fiesta Rally3. He would claim an impressive fourth overall in class, setting himself in good stead for his first Rally1 start on snow. Using his day’s testing and existing experience in Sweden, Munster will look to have another consistent weekend after his strong performance in Monte-Carlo.


William Creighton and Liam Regan, supported by M-Sport and the Motorsport Ireland Rally Academy, will make their WRC2 debut in a Ford Fiesta Rally2 in Sweden as a result of their victory in Junior WRC in 2023. Claiming the Junior category win in Sweden last year, Creighton will carry this experience with him as he embarks on his first WRC2 appearance on snow and ice. The Irish pairing will take on their first rally with the team this weekend at Lima Rally, to gather some valuable traction ahead of next week’s challenges.


Rally Sweden will also mark the first round of the 2024 FIA Junior WRC, which consists of a total of five rounds throughout the 2024 season. In Sweden, M-Sport Poland will run a hugely impressive 19-car entry of up-and-coming rally talent, who will battle it out in a field of Fiesta Rally3s to see who comes out on top.


Richard Millener, Team Principal, said:

“Rally Sweden will be a difficult one for me as I will be watching from the sidelines in the UK, as a result of my second child being due in the middle of the rally! I have no doubt that the team and drivers will be able to replicate a similar performance to that on Monte-Carlo, so I am very excited to see what we can do. We have had another great test with each crew completing over 200km per day, the test team really did a fantastic job to give our drivers the best footing heading out to Sweden.


“It will also be a pleasure to see Will Creighton and Liam Regan make their debut with M-Sport in the Rally2 car, the prize from their Junior WRC win. Talking of JWRC, a special mention goes to Maciek Woda and his team at M-Sport Poland, who have secured a truly incredible 19 Rally3 cars to open this year’s junior championship. I cannot wait to watch that battle! Although I won’t be there, I am sure my replacement, a certain Malcolm Wilson, will be more than capable of looking after things!”


Adrien Fourmaux said:

“The challenge in Sweden will be quite interesting for me, it’s been two years since I’ve driven on snow! We only do one rally per year on snow, which has a very different driving style and car set up. But I really like to drive the car on snow, it’s a really nice feeling that we get at these speeds and it’s quite unique. So I’m really looking forward to it! The target will be to get our feeling back on snow, look at our pace compared to the more experienced crews, and see if we can get a good result like we did in Monte.


“We’ve done one day’s testing this week and the feeling was quite good. So we’ll see, it’s always difficult to know on the test how the rally is going to go as the conditions can be so different.”


Grégoire Munster said:

“The big challenge for Sweden will be getting to know the car on this particular surface. We had the chance to drive once on snow last year with the Fiesta Rally3, but this time we will be carrying much more speed into the corners. So there’s an additional challenge where we have to adapt the pace notes to the different speed with the Puma. We will also try not to get stuck in the snowbanks, which can happen so quickly!


“We had a good pre-event test, where we tried many different things. But we want to try to keep it simple, to just get the feeling with the car, drive the kilometres and get better on this surface. We just hope to finish the rally and make progression throughout the event.”


William Creighton said:

“I’ve competed in Lima a couple of times and I’ve always found it really beneficial to prepare before heading to Rally Sweden. I think it’s even more important this year as I step into the challenges the WRC2 category will bring with this new car, so I’m really happy to have this opportunity thanks to the MI Rally Academy. I’ve always enjoyed driving on the snow and we had good pace in Sweden last year. The aim is to get comfortable with the car and Lima presents a great opportunity to do that.


“I’m really happy to have a full WRC2 programme planned with the support of the MI Rally Academy and to have the opportunity to work with everyone at M-Sport. Liam and I have spent a week with the team at Dovenby Hall, which has allowed us to work with the mechanics and engineers so that we are well prepared for Lima & Rally Sweden.


“Participating in Junior WRC gave me great experience to build my pace in Sweden, which makes this transition to the WRC2 category much more manageable. The competition is so strong in WRC2 so I have to focus on my own event and making the step up before I look at the others!”




Published 09 February 2024

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