M-Sport Ford World Rally Team drivers Gus Greensmith and Teemu Suninen used Saturday’s second leg to gain experience of Rally Estonia’s new and more technical stages, while also demonstrating pace and potential in their EcoBoost-powered Ford Fiesta WRCs.
Suninen finished day two as he started it in sixth, while Greensmith returned to action following his Friday retirement and headed back to Tartu for the overnight halt in 33rd.
Both drivers performed consistently throughout the day’s eight tests and regularly traded top-eight stage times in sweltering ambient temperatures.
Out of the fight for a top-five finish after he was delayed by a puncture and an engine-related issue on Friday, Suninen’s focus today has been on preserving his season-best sixth place alongside co-driver Mikko Markkula.
And he was able to do just that to the extent he grew his margin over seventh-placed Pierre-Louis Loubet to 1m18.2s having begun SS10 this morning just 6.6s ahead of his closest rival.
After retiring with engine-related issues of his own on Friday morning, Greensmith was handed the unenviable task of starting first on the road on his return and lost time battling the reduced grip and traction as he cleared a ‘racing’ line for the drivers behind.
Making the most of co-driver Chris Patterson’s experience and calming influence, Greensmith shrugged off the obvious disadvantage by posting a series of top-seven stage times.
In WRC2, Adrien Fourmaux overcame a spin on SS14 and a slow puncture on SS18 to complete day two 6.6s adrift of second-placed Mads Østberg and 4.7s behind Marco Bulacia in fourth. Team-mate Tom Kristensson, in an identical EcoBoost-powered Ford Fiesta Rally2, is a strong fifth in the category, which he’s contesting as part of his prize for winning the FIA Junior WRC title in 2020.
M-Sport Team Principal, Richard Millener, said:
“It’s always a little bit disappointing when you’ve had a bad first day, and when you’re outside the fight, it’s difficult to push with the same level of intensity, which has been the case for Gus and Teemu today. Neither driver can be faulted for what they’ve done today but the road position hasn’t made things easy, particularly on the first two stages this morning, which were really loose. It was also frustrating that they couldn’t take advantage of the fact the stages were new for everybody because of the cleaning they had to do.
“Gus took running first on the road in his stride though and we’ve seen a few promising times and a calm approach. We all know he wanted to be fighting where he should have been before his problems started but it’s just not been possible this weekend due to the engine-related issue we suffered from yesterday.
“It’s important Gus and Teemu got through all the stages today because the experience will be useful for the future and for their confidence going forward.
“Adrien has been involved in an exciting fight for the WRC2 podium and starts the final day firmly in contention for the runner-up spot on roads that are far removed from what he was brought up on. I am pleased Tom got lots of valuable kilometers under his belt today, while also showing some encouraging speed.”
Gus Greensmith (33rd) said:
“It was tricky opening the road this morning like I knew it would be. But comparing my times against those of my team-mate when I was cleaning the road makes me think I did a pretty good job during the morning stages. We weren’t able to find the precision we had with the rear of the car yesterday during the morning loop, so we worked on getting the feeling back this afternoon. Overall, it’s been a tough day although I’m happy with the job I’ve done even though there’s a lot to improve on. We go again tomorrow and that’s the important thing.”
Teemu Suninen (6th) said:
“The morning stages were super-tricky and I overshot one junction and stalled the engine, which cost a few seconds. There was some cleaning and there was always a risk you could break the car or make a mistake. I’ve enjoyed the driving but, honestly, it’s not really been a good day for me. In general, we’ve been lacking in performance so I can’t be satisfied.”
Adrien Fourmaux (4th WRC2) said:
“This morning was really interesting and the first two stages were quite technical compared to yesterday although I was happy with my morning loop. We had a spin in the first stage this afternoon, but we worked a lot on the road section with the set-up for the next stage and we were quite happy. I had a puncture on the front-right in the last stage but I don’t know how it happened. It’s a shame to lose time on this type of stage but there is still a long day tomorrow and many things can happen. Our position is not bad and we are going in the right direction.”
Tom Kristensson (5th WRC2) said:
“I expected a much better start to the day, but the first stage was a tough one, like it was for everybody else. But I focused on my pace and by the third stage I was back into it again. Then we had to stop on the fourth stage after Nikolay Gryazin’s roll. The car has been working perfectly and I have been learning quite a lot. I hate to drive for learning, I want to push for the win, but we just need to accept the situation and keep learning and improving.”