M-Sport Ford World Rally Team has switched its focus to day two of Rally Estonia following a Friday of frustration rather than elation in the FIA World Rally Championship.
After going fourth quickest on Thursday’s opening superspecial in Tartu aboard his EcoBoost-powered Ford Fiesta WRC, Gus Greensmith continued that impressive form into Friday’s first run, which he completed with the fifth fastest time, 6.8s down on stage winner and home hero Ott Tänak.
Unfortunately, an engine issue on the next stage ultimately forced Greensmith and co-driver Chris Patterson to retire from the leg although they will restart tomorrow.
Teemu Suninen was third quickest on SS1 and used SS2 and SS3 to reacclimatise to high-speed action on his first start since Rally Italia Sardegna in early June.
The Finn was slowed by a damaged left-rear tyre on SS4 before an engine issue caused further delay on SS5. Co-driven by Mikko Markkula, Suninen reached the overnight halt in sixth position after demoting Pierre-Louis Loubet on SS9.
In the WRC2 category, Adrien Fourmaux, from France, moved ahead of Marco Bulacia on the rain-hit SS9 to hold fourth spot with his Swedish team-mate Tom Kristensson two places behind in an identical Ford Fiesta Rally2.
M-Sport Team Principal, Richard Millener, said:
“It certainly hasn’t been the day we were hoping for and it’s really disappointing that we’ve not been able to build on our momentum from Safari Rally Kenya, where we recorded our best result of the season so far.
“We’ve had two separate engine-related issues with Gus and Teemu. Gus had to retire but will restart tomorrow and Teemu is, of course, not where he should be in terms of the overnight result.
“It’s been really hard for Gus because his time on the first stage this morning and his speed up until the problem occurring on SS3 was really good and we can only apologise to him and Chris. We never want our drivers to have problems and it’s also very disappointing for the team, who are working so hard. It’s important that Gus can start again tomorrow because he showed so much promise this morning and we know what he’s capable.
“Teemu was unlucky with the puncture and also had some engine-related problems of his own to contend with. But he’s on course to finish in the top six, which is encouraging.
“Adrien and Tom are both on course to score important points in WRC2 with Adrien less than eight seconds off the podium in fourth. We’re all pleased the hard work Tom put in before the rally is already paying off and the experience he’s gaining is really good for him.”
Gus Greensmith (Retired) said:
“We had a very good start to the day with the fifth fastest time, which I was very pleased with because it was a big improvement on where we were last year, so I felt like I was doing a very good job in the car. It was the same going into the second stage of the loop but, unfortunately, we had a failure related to the engine. We managed to nurse it through but eventually we had to retire in the third stage of the loop because it was more than likely going to cause damage to the engine and risk whether we would be able to compete for the rest of the weekend. I’m very disappointed but let’s see what we can do tomorrow.”
Teemu Suninen (6th) said:
“It was generally and okay day. I did my best, but we had quite a challenging day. Tomorrow we try to do good job with no mistakes.”
Adrien Fourmaux (4th WRC2) said:
“It has been quite tricky in some places today and I didn’t want to make any mistakes. Okay, it wasn’t the best loop for me this morning but in the afternoon I found some pace and that’s the main thing. Tomorrow is another long day so it’s good for the experience.”
Tom Kristensson (6th WRC2) said:
“We had a fantastic day, we developed our driving, we developed the car and the feeling is absolutely amazing. Today was for me to get into the maximum speed and learn the surface, learn the tyre and learn how really fast you can drive in this car on these roads. We had an awesome day, we are in our speed without any mistakes, any moments, no issues with the car and we are very happy and looking forward to continuing the rally tomorrow.”