The second day of World Rally Championship action on Belgium’s classic Ypres Rally saw the M-Sport Ford World Rally Team stars Gus Greensmith and Teemu Suninen continue to gain experience of the uniquely challenging stages in their Ecoboost-powered Ford Fiestas, competing in the WRC and WRC2 classes respectively.
A second day of dry weather assisted the crews as they set off to tackle the closed road stages around the historic market town of Ypres. Greensmith and his co-driver Chris Patterson restarted on Saturday after going off on the fourth of Friday’s eight timed tests.
With their Ford Fiesta WRC running first on the road, the pair set a string of seven seventh-fastest stage times through the day, their consistency only faltering on the final timed stage when his car was stuck in ‘road mode’ rather than the full competitive engine settings available in ‘stage mode’ but the young Englishman kept his cool and delivered another clean stage to end the day in 19th place overall.
In WRC2, Teemu Suninen and co-driver Mikko Markkula were also on a recovery drive at the wheel of their Ford Fiesta Rally2. Having led through much of Friday, the Finnish pair’s opening day ended with a damaged radiator and were determined to show the car’s true potential on Saturday’s stages.
Suninen duly powered to a clean sweep of four stage wins through the morning loop, holding third place in WRC2 and making inroads on the leaders. Unfortunately there was some damage to the engine incurred from their incident on Friday, which ultimately saw the car being retired from the event again.
M-Sport Team Principal, Richard Millener, said:
“Obviously the events of yesterday, losing two of our cars in accidents and having to restart the other two under Super rally regulations, has changed the outlook of the event considerably and the team is really now using every stage to build knowledge for when we return.
“Gus delivered good consistency through the day in tricky conditions for him in the car, and when he felt able to attack a little there was a reward in the stage times so I think he can be reasonably satisfied with his performance.
“Teemu once again demonstrated the pace of the Ford Fiesta Rally2 this morning and it was bittersweet for him and the team in some ways, having led the WRC2 runners convincingly early on. Nevertheless, he then had some residual damage to contend with after last night’s incident which has ultimately put him out of the rally.
“We will not be restarting Teemu tomorrow, which is the right decision for us to take to avoid causing any further damage to the engine. There are 300 km of non-competitive road sections to be driven on the long haul down to Spa-Francorchamps circuit, and there would be little to gain from putting the engine through that at this stage in the rally.”
Gus Greensmith said:
“We needed a strong day after the disappointment of going off the road yesterday and I’ve done everything I can today to learn what I can about the stages and the rally. It really has a character unlike anything we’ve seen in the WRC before. We had one or two electrical issues through the day, which made it hard to be as fully committed as I would have liked to be because the challenge is enormous. There’s no room for error and for anyone who hasn’t competed here before it’s really a learning process, and there have been some encouraging signs of progress through the day.”
Teemu Suninen said:
“We quickly found a very good feeling with the Ford Fiesta Rally2 this morning and from this we had the confidence to push. We were able to set fastest times once again and prove how fast the car is, but unfortunately there was still some damage in the engine from where we overheated yesterday. The car began overheating again and the fan broke, with the result that we had to stop rather than cause more damage.”