M-Sport Ford World Rally Team stars Gus Greensmith and Adrien Fourmaux have both reached the top five finishers at the end of the Safari Rally, Round 6 of the 2021 World Rally Championship. A thrilling final day brought five timed stages from which the Ecoboost-powered Ford Fiesta WRC claimed its first stage win of the season.
After wildly changeable weather on Saturday, the closing leg was held in warm, dry conditions. Gus Greensmith and co-driver Chris Patterson set off in fifth position on the road with team-mates Adrien Fourmaux and Renaud Jamoul right behind them, and through the opening stage of the day Fourmaux began to build a charge towards the front.
The Frenchman was able to fit four of the more competitive soft compound tyres to his Fiesta WRC and capitalised upon the advantage this gave him. In contrast Greensmith had suffered punctures on the opening day’s stages, which ate into his allocation of eight soft tyres for the event and forced him on hard compound tyres for the closing day.
On the third test of the day, the 9.71 km Malewa stage, Fourmaux lit up the sector times and crossed the line to claim his first ever WRC stage win and the first win of the 2021 season for the M-Sport Ford World Rally Team. His time was 4.1 seconds faster than 2019 world champion Ott Tänak in second place, and elevated him to fourth overall, with Greensmith close behind in fifth place.
On the next stage, the 11.33 km Loldia test, Fourmaux underlined the Fiesta’s potential by holding the fastest time until the seven-time world champion Sebastien Ogier snatched it back from his fellow countryman by a margin of just 3.8 seconds. Despite a late scare when his rear tyre came off the rim at the end of the rally-closing powerstage, Fourmaux held on to his advantage to finish in fourth place in only his third appearance in the Ford Fiesta WRC.
After the celebrations a stewards enquiry deemed that Fourmaux had driven too far off the course when cutting a corner on Stage 14 on Sunday morning, resulting in a 10s penalty. This meant that the Fiestas retained their positions in fourth and fifth overall, but with Greensmith claiming fourth place by a margin of 0.1s.
The World Rally Championship returns to Europe for its next event, on the rough and ready gravel stages of Rally Estonia on 15-18 July.
M-Sport Team Principal, Richard Millener, said:
“I am incredibly happy with the result this weekend, we knew this event would be a tough one with lots of drama so we set out to approach it with a sensible strategy from the word go, that has certainly paid off.
Adrien scoring his first overall stage win is not only a huge thing for him, but also the team – and to do it on the 100th stage of the WRC this season is a nice fact that I won’t forget!
Gus has had a really solid weekend, once again underlining his improvement in pace and his ability to show he can be fast but also reliable.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank every single team member out in Kenya for their hard work over the last few weeks. This was always going to be the hardest rally on the calendar in terms of stages and also logistics due to COVID, and without all these people we simply couldn’t do what we did this weekend, so thank you to them all and I hope they enjoy their last night in fabulous Kenya and I cannot wait to attend myself next season!”
Gus Greensmith (4th) said:
“Generally it was a very good rally. Fourth and fifth was very good for the team, it brings us some good points. We had some bad luck with the rain yesterday but it was a very good and fair battle with Adrien this weekend.
“I always prefer to win on the road, so while fourth place is a great feeling it would be nice to claim it next time without a penalty for Adrien. Last time we battled this close together in Portugal I came out on top, this time it was his turn, at least in the eyes of the stopwatch! Nevertheless, a fourth place finish is tremendous for the whole team and now it’s time to focus on Estonia.“
Adrien Fourmaux (5th) said:
“The only strategy this morning was to bring the car back. The Safari Rally has been probably the nicest experience that I have ever had in my career, a really great adventure. This country is sometimes completely crazy, especially the road sections, on the way back to the hotel yesterday we were completely blocked for more than 90 minutes but it’s a great adventure, the welcome has been truly amazing. I love it.
“The final day brought us the roughest, rockiest stages of the event but also the most beautiful, right up in the middle mountains with so many amazing animals that I can’t wait to watch it back on the TV. There was less time to enjoy it today but on the recce we saw monkeys, zebras, giraffes, everything to be honest.
“In spite of the time penalty, to end the rally, my second event on gravel in the Ford Fiesta WRC, with a stage win is an incredible feeling and I think it will bring good memories for a long time. Congratulations to Gus on his fourth place and thank you to everyone on the team, and thank you Africa.”