NEWS

M-SPORT’S YOUNG GUNS COME OF AGE WITH IMPRESSIVE PORTUGAL PACE

M-Sport Ford World Rally Team has recorded its best finish so far in this season’s FIA World Rally Championship with Gus Greensmith and Adrien Fourmaux completing Rally de Portugal in the top six after they both delivered strong performances throughout the event.


Co-driven by Chris Patterson, Greensmith took his EcoBoost-powered Ford Fiesta WRC to a career-equalling best result of fifth, while his team-mate and fellow young gun Fourmaux was just behind in sixth alongside co-driver Renaud Jamoul.


To underline its impressive showing in Portugal, M-Sport Ford World Rally Team also extended its run of podium placings in WRC2 courtesy of Teemu Suninen and Mikko Markkula, who brought their EcoBoost-powered Ford Fiesta Rally2 home in second place in the WRC’s top feeder category.


Greensmith, who clocked four top-three stage times on Friday’s opening leg, started Sunday’s five-stage route in sixth position. But he moved ahead of Fourmaux through the first run of the legendary Fafe stage after he had gone third fastest on SS16 and SS17.


The 24-year-old completed Rally de Portugal with the fourth quickest time on SS19 and was eighth fastest through the event-closing Wolf Power Stage to cap a hugely impressive outing.


Had it not been for 50s lost to a damaged tyre on leg one, Greensmith would almost certainly have enjoyed a more favourable road position on day two, where the effects of road cleaning, coupled with an engine issue, cost valuable time. Despite those challenges, the British driver never lost his focus as he continued to underline his potential.


It was another highly accomplished display from Fourmaux, who began 2021 with only four seasons of rallying under his belt. Making his Rally de Portugal debut and competing in a World Rally Car on gravel for the first time, the 26-year-old hit back from a damaged tyre on Friday’s penultimate stage and a throttle issue on Saturday’s opener to land his second consecutive top six finish at the WRC’s top level.


Among Frenchman Fourmaux’s achievements over Rally de Portugal’s challenging 337.51 competitive kilometres was his performance on both runs of the Felgueiras stage this morning. The 9.18-killometre test was back on the event itinerary following a lengthy absence and was therefore all-new to the bulk of the crews. Fourmaux capitalised on that level playing field to set rapid times while the battle for the overall win was still raging.


Finn Suninen recovered from a spin on SS16 to finish a fine second in WRC2, comfortably clear of defending champion Mads Østberg. Tom Kristensson, making his second start in an EcoBoost-powered Ford Fiesta Rally2, part of his prize for winning the FIA Junior WRC Championship in 2020, scored his first WRC2 points in ninth position supported by co-driver and fellow Swede David Arhusiander.


Suninen will be back behind the wheel of an EcoBoost-powered Ford Fiesta WRC when the World Rally Championship heads to Sardinia next month (3-6 June) for Rally Italia Sardegna with Fourmaux switching to an EcoBoost-powered Ford Fiesta Rally2.


M-Sport Managing Director, Malcolm Wilson OBE, said:

“Firstly, I want to say a big well done to Gus and Adrien for their excellent performances on Rally de Portugal. It’s a very challenging event but they barely put a wheel wrong and set some hugely encouraging stage times, despite their lack of experience.

“At M-Sport we’ve always prided ourselves on giving young drivers the chance to shine in the World Rally Championship and that’s exactly what Gus and Adrien have done this weekend. They’ve both had to deal with difficult situations at times, but they never once lost their composure and always stuck to the objective we set them, namely to get through all the stages and show their obvious speed and potential.


“I’m pleased for Teemu that he got another podium in WRC2, while also showing the performance of the EcoBoost-powered Ford Fiesta Rally2. He’ll be back in one of our World Rally Cars in Sardinia and we know what he’s capable of on that event and in a top-of-the-range Fiesta. Tom came back from his problems on Friday and drove well to the finish.”


Gus Greensmith (5th) said:

“It’s been a really good weekend, I’ve equalled my best result in the World Rally Championship so far, and things look good going forward and that’s important. We’ve had some issues but in terms of the pace and performance I’m really happy.


“We put in some good times and would have finished higher up the order had it not been for the puncture on Friday and problem with the engine on Saturday. But those things happen and only make you stronger and better as a driver.


“I want to say a big thank you to the team because they made a big difference in helping me make the step forward on this rally. Now we just need to keep it going on the next event in Sardinia and for the rest of the season.”


Adrien Fourmaux (6th) said:

“Honestly it was a really good rally for me and it was interesting to open the road yesterday. Okay, it was difficult for the pace but it was really good for the learning and I’ve learned so much with the car and everything this weekend and this what I am here to do.


“I really enjoyed the stages, they were so much fun and the car was really good. I can say only thank you to M-Sport for the opportunity to drive the EcoBoost-powered Ford Fiesta WRC.


“For sure it was a really difficult rally for my first time here and the knowledge of the stages of the others didn’t help us. But it’s part of the game and on the Felgueiras stage today, which hadn’t been used for many years, we were second fastest both times.”


Teemu Suninen (2nd WRC2) said:

“Finishing second in WRC2 is a really good result and it’s the same as the rally, which was also really good. I had a few struggles today, including a spin on the first stage this morning. But I was able to bring the car home to the finish and I could also show a good performance with the car and we can be happy with this. We can now focus on our next event in Sardinia when we will get the opportunity to drive the EcoBoost-powered Ford Fiesta WRC. It’s an event I know and like and I can’t wait to get there and get started.”

Tom Kristensson (9th WRC2) said:

“We had a tough rally, but it’s been a good final day with nice stages that were enjoyable to drive. The main target was to get to the finish, get the kilometres and get some confidence. For sure I need to find more confidence, but I’m enjoying driving the car and the team and the journey we are doing. We’ll start over fresh on our next event and keep making progress.”