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MUNSTER MARKS BEST WRC FINISH TO DATE ON RALLY ITALIA SARDEGNA

M-Sport Ford World Rally team survives another typically tough Rally Sardinia, delivering multiple challenges to its crews but seeing Grégoire Munster claim an impressive fifth overall, his best finish in the FIA World Rally Championship.


The championship’s sixth round of 2024 saw Rally Italia Sardegna take on a condensed format, with crews still clocking in 266 competitive kilometers but the rally starting later than usual on Friday afternoon. 


Grégoire Munster and Louis Louka delivered a solid performance all weekend, avoiding issues on the famously challenging event, and achieving a career-first fifth overall finish and a total of eight championship points. 


The Luxembourg driver’s weekend began on a positive note, setting a seventh fastest time on a tricky opening stage. Practicing caution to avoid punctures, Munster would see through the rest of the morning loop with no issues and claim a fourth-fastest time on SS3, whilst also benefitting from his advantageous road position. The afternoon would go equally well, setting consistent times and ending the day seventh overall.


Saturday would see him take the same approach, managing the car well despite only a tyre-fitting zone to break up the day. Another clean afternoon saw him gain two positions after Neuville and Katsuta dropped out of contention, resulting in Munster finding himself fifth overall with eight provisional points heading into Sunday and now a clear goal for the final four stages - to bring these points home.


Another measured drive on Sunday saw him hold position, claiming fifth overall and his best ever result in WRC. With only one previous year’s experience here in Sardinia to date, Munster’s performance highlights his mature approach and undoubtedly represents his top accomplishment of 2024 so far.


Teammates Adrien Fourmaux and Alex Coria’s weekend would however tell a different story. The French pairing would have a strong start on Friday afternoon, claiming two third fastest stage times on the opening stages to place them third overall. Unfortunately, things would quickly unravel as a puncture on SS3 was followed up with an electrical issue on SS4 that would call an end to his day. A late arrival back to service, followed by a mammoth effort from the team would see the car repaired. But the pairing would now have to open the road on Saturday morning, the longest day of the championship so far. 


Despite his determination to continue his fight, Fourmaux would continue to encounter battles other than the stages themselves. A front brake pipe issue would rear its head on SS8, resulting in a busy 15-minute tyre fitting zone as the crew and their two mechanics pushed to repair the issue as quickly as possible. Fourmaux would take care through the rest of the afternoon, but another puncture further hampered his pace on SS11. An exhausting day for the crew, but Fourmaux now had his sights set on Sunday points. 


With a more advantageous road position, Fourmaux was eager to set himself up to take good Super Sunday points, but a misheard pacenote on the first stage of the day saw him drop precious time and claim only one point from the day’s classifications. 


Only the Wolf Power Stage was now left for a final push for points, a committed drive would see him collect two points for a fourth-fastest time a mere five thousandths of a second faster than Takamoto Katsuta. Once again, a mature, measured and dedicated drive sees Fourmaux gain more valuable experience to support his championship campaign. After Sardinia, the Frenchman now sits fifth in the drivers’ championship. 


In WRC2, William Creighton and Liam Regan also had a testing weekend in the Fiesta Rally2. Starting on good footing, the Irish pair set strong times on Friday afternoon and were keeping good pace with the competitive field of championship contenders. Carrying this pace into Saturday, Creighton was stopped in his tracks after a power steering problem forced them to retire after SS6. In order to maximise his opportunity in Sardinia, Creighton was back out on the road on Sunday to gain more valuable experience to support his maiden season in WRC2. 


Putting down good pace on Sunday, Creighton achieved an impressive third fastest stage time in WRC2 on SS15 and cemented a good weekend’s worth of experience in Sardinia. 


Richard Millener, Team Principal M-Sport Ford World Rally Team, said:

“We knew it was always going to be hard to continue our good run here in Sardinia, one of the toughest events of the European part of the WRC, but dispute not getting the result we wanted, we can still be happy with the speed Adrien and Alex showed on many of the event stages. I also want to congratulate Gregoire and Louis on their best result to date in the WRC - a really great achievement for them both and secures them eight championship points. We now look towards three fast rallies in a row where we are determined to get back to chasing the podium places.”


Grégoire Munster, 5th overall, said:

“I’m just happy we had a trouble free event, and at the end we reached our best result in the WRC, so we’re very happy with this. There’s still plenty of work to do and pace to find but we’re always going in the right direction. Especially seeing us get our fourth fastest time in SS3, we now need to build on that and keep the momentum going into the next few events.”


Adrien Fourmaux, 15th overall, said:

"I think we can be quite positive with the pace we showed this weekend, on Friday and Saturday especially. It’s a shame what happened with the electronic issue on Friday, but we are working on these things for the future. On Sunday, it was good to get some extra points for the Power Stage, even if we wanted more from the daily standings on Super Sunday. We need to focus a bit on the slower corners, to get the car more agile, but this is very specific to Sardinia. Overall I have been happy with the car and now we need to focus on the upcoming smooth gravel rallies.”


William Creighton, 28th WRC2, 54th overall, said:

“We had a positive Friday, I was happy with our speed and feeling in the car. There were some issues on Saturday, but I was happy to come back for the final day and show good speed on SS15. Thank you to everyone at M-Sport and the MI Rally Academy for a big effort over the last two weeks on the Jim Clark Rally and here in Sardinia.”


Published 2nd June 2024

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