M-Sport Ford World Rally Team stars Gus Greensmith and Adrien Fourmaux have completed an exemplary second day on the Safari Rally, challenging for fastest stage times and keeping their EcoBoost-powered Ford Fiesta WRCs in contention for a podium finish in Kenya.
The pair of Ford Fiesta WRCs set off for two loops of three stages in fifth and sixth positions overnight and sustained their performance through a day that saw them challenged by significantly more demanding tundra than they saw on the opening day, together with rainfall on the final stage of the day making the stages even more treacherous than ever.
Both drivers enjoyed a spirited battle with seven-time world champion Sebastien Ogier throughout the day, the Ford youngsters setting highly competitive times, with Fourmaux logging the second-fastest time overall through the 20.33 km Soysambu stage on the morning loop and third fastest time through the day-ending 31.04 km Sleeping Warrior test.
Greensmith and co-driver Chris Patterson have closed their fifth place in the overall standings to just 18.2 seconds behind 2019 world champion Ott Tanak, while Fourmaux and co-driver Renaud Jamoul lie a further 12.0s behind in sixth at the final overnight halt.
Sunday will bring a final five timed stages including the points-scoring powerstage to close the event, with the M-Sport Ford World Rally Team young guns aiming to be in the thick of the action to the finish.
M-Sport Team Principal, Richard Millener, said:
“After a very encouraging start to the rally for both crews on Friday, we knew that today would present a stern test of reliability and of patience because the cars and the drivers have clearly shown the potential to run at the front, but the nature of the Safari means that this is an event which rewards caution.
“The drivers’ feedback from Day 1 was that they were comfortable to push the pace a little on the smoother sections of the stages and I think that it was clear to see the sort of pace that they had when there was confidence in the road conditions.
“We didn’t gain quite as much benefit as might be hoped from the rainfall on the final stage, the deluge came just a little too late to advance their positions, but overall it was an enormously positive day for both crews which puts us in a good position to bring home a strong result at the end of the event. The last stage just went to show that anything can happen on this event at any time!”
Gus Greensmith (5th) said:
“My car felt much better suited to the fast, flowing stages today. We struggled a little for traction in the deep, sandy ‘fesh-fesh’ that builds up in some of the slower sections of the roads here but I am happy that we have been able to show our true pace today.
“Among all of the drivers, when we talk to each other it’s clear that we are all experiencing many of the same issues, not least the way that the road changes from the first pass to the second after so many cars have been through. Also the rally organisers have put rocks out to prevent cars going too far off-line when you cut corners, which weren’t there on the recce and which can get pulled out by the cars before you, which certainly adds an extra challenge.
“Your nature is to hesitate a little in that moment but I feel that we have generally gone as smoothly through the stages as we can. If we can get to the finish cleanly I think we can all take a lot away from the experience.”
Adrien Fourmaux (6th) said:
“Hopefully one day the first stage win will come but it’s good to have good pace today. I was maybe a little too careful on the first stage of the day but on the second we were able to push and to be beaten to the stage win by the most successful man in the sport today is a nice fight to have.
“I was really comfortable on the second loop when we repeated the stages. I knew where the road was clean and where I could push, so there were times when I was able to show the speed that we have. It was a very positive day for us overall and with Gus and myself both in a good place to start the final day I hope we can bring the right result for the team.“