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M-Sport Ford World Rally Team is prepared to welcome its newest members, Mārtiņš Sesks and Renārs Francis, to the Rally1 squad on Orlen Rally Poland next week. The Latvian pairing will debut the first appearance of the non-hybrid Puma Rally1, alongside Adrien Fourmaux and Alex Coria, and Grégoire Munster and Louis Louka.

Returning to the FIA World Rally Championship for the first time since 2017, Orlen Rally Poland will be welcomed back by teams and fans with open arms. Famous for it’s fast, flowing and unforgiving gravel stages, the variable Polish terrain, always looking to catch out crews, is a favourite to many.

Based in the northern town of Mikołajki, tucked away in the Masurian Lake District, the area will once again become the home of the rally. A picturesque ceremonial start will kick off the action on Thursday night, before the first run of the side-by-side Mikołajki Arena Super Special Stage. A tyre fitting zone punctuates the day on Friday, adding pressure to crews to manage their cars well throughout the day, with no chance to do substantial repairs until the evening.

Another full day of rallying follows on Saturday, with the event ending on the spectacle of the Mikołajki Power Stage on Sunday afternoon.

Mārtiņš Sesks will benefit from a strong knowledge of Poland; having competed on three previous editions of Rally Poland as part of the FIA European Rally Championship, including claiming the win on last year’s edition, the Latvian driver will make use of this to support his step-up to Rally1 machinery.

Sesks will make history by driving the first non-hybrid Rally1 in the WRC since the introduction of the cars in 2022. Carrying 100kg of ballast weight in lieu of the hybrid unit, Sesks will have the chance to adapt to the Puma in Poland before upgrading to full hybrid for his home rally in Latvia in a few weeks’ time.

Grégoire Munster makes his return to Poland for the first time since 2021, having made two ERC appearances there before his move to WRC2. With his confidence bolstered by his career-best fifth overall finish in Sardinia, Munster looks forward to growing his experience level on fast gravel stages and aims to collect more points for his championship attack.

A fresh face to Polish rallying, Adrien Fourmaux will hope to apply his knowledge of fast Finnish and Estonian stages to the roads of Rally Poland. Now fifth in the championship standings, Fourmaux will benefit from a strong road position and aim to use this to gain a valuable advantage over his rivals at the top. After a strong first half of the 2024 season, Fourmaux will look to further strengthen his championship charge across the upcoming fast gravel rallies.

Richard Millener, Team Principal, said:

“I am really looking forward to getting back to Poland, the event is set in a really nice area of the country and has always had a very passionate fan base, who are fantastic to be around. The event is very high speed which results in some incredible footage, but will also be a new adventure in some form or another for all our crews so we will just take one day at a time, with the same approach as we have so far this season and be looking for some strong results.”

Adrien Fourmaux said:

“It will be my first time competing in Poland next week, but it will be the first fast gravel event of three, so I want to build on this one to improve our pace for the next two. We plan to get a good result, and to forget what happened in Sardinia. We’ve been working with the team so we can start to meet expectations again and hopefully get back on the podium soon. We’re going to do our best; the only thing I know from this rally is that its quite fast and quite sandy! So there will be a lot of learning, but we can use our experience to support us and see what we can achieve.”

Grégoire Munster said:

“I’m looking forward to taking on the next three fast gravel events coming up. We had a good pre-event test in Estonia last week, being able to drive the Puma at such high speeds is just unbelievable. It’s really the best way to experience the car, so I can’t wait to start! Poland is going to be important because the set-up we establish there is going to be the base for the next two rallies. The surface in Poland can be a bit softer and there can be some rutting, which we didn’t see on the test, so that will be an interesting discovery.

“I’m happy to be experiencing a new event, this time we will be a bit more on the same level with the other crews in terms of stage knowledge, so it’ll be interesting to see how it turns out!”

Mārtiņš Sesks said:

“I’m really excited to be back competing in Poland! We have some great memories here, especially after winning the ERC round last year! For sure this year is a completely different game, this will be our first event in a Rally1 car. The testing we did last week was something incredible, and a completely different experience to anything I’ve done before! The car reacts so quickly, and how fast it goes round corners is just so unique and indescribable to anyone who hasn’t driven the car.

"It will be a big challenge to get up to speed, but this is the goal for Poland. We will be driving non-hybrid to get use to the aerodynamics of the car, get to know the team and to get more and more ready to be in good shape for Latvia. The goal is to get the mileage, finish the rally and learn as much as we can.”

Published 21st June 2024


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