After a dream start to the 2022 FIA World Rally Championship in Monte Carlo last month, M-Sport Ford World Rally Team now prepares to tackle the wintery conditions of Rally Sweden.
This year the rally heads to Umea, in search of more consistent, snowier conditions. The rally will see the new era of Hybrid Rally1 cars tackle snow and ice for the first time across the event’s 17 stages with a total competitive distance of 265 kilometres. After a busy few weeks converting the cars to snow specification, and the additional challenge of building a new car for Adrien Fourmaux, the M-Sport team conducted successful pre-event tests last week. After one day of driving for each crew, the team is now well prepared for the event start on Friday morning.
M-Sport’s Craig Breen, who currently sits fourth overall in the drivers’ standings, albeit second overall if you discount Sebastien Loeb and Sebastian Ogier (who are not completing full seasons), has a strong track record on snow to date. The Irishman is keen to show his ability on the high-speed snow tests in search of a second consecutive podium result.
Off the back of his first ever WRC stage win, Gus Greensmith completed a small Norwegian National event in a Ford Fiesta Rally2 to help acclimatise to the specialist conditions and driving style. The young Englishman is aiming to build on his Monte Carlo result and looking for his first loose surface stage win.
Fourmaux spent some time at M-Sport’s Dovenby HQ in Cumbria leading up to the rally, helping his technicians build a new car after his huge accident on the opening event of the season. The Frenchman is aiming for a solid performance in Sweden, building on his limited experience of snow events, having only completed two events in four-wheel-drive machinery to date, the young Frenchman will be looking to get his 2022 campaign firmly back on track.
Sweden will see the start of M-Sport’s WRC2 programme with two Fiesta Rally2s representing the team. Finnish youngster Jari Huttunen returns after a successful debut with M-Sport at the end of last year in Monza, joined by rising Swedish star Mattias Adielsson who will make his first start for M-Sport on his home WRC event.
Rally Sweden also sees that start of the FIA Junior WRC Championship, which will see six budding rally talents compete against one another in identical Fiesta Rally3 cars across five events this year.
Richard Millener, Team Principal, said:
“After the success in Monte with a 1-3-5 finish, our focus heading into Sweden is on maintaining those level of results. Craig goes into this event in a very strong position, and with M-Sport Ford currently leading the manufacturers’ championship, we’re fully focused on more solid results this week.
“The snow and ice conditions are going to be a challenge for our non-Scandinavian crews, but we’re coming into this event with a car that we know is strong and highly competitive, so we’re optimistic we can build on the success from Monte. I think we will see more impact of the new hybrid cars on these fast snow stages, but the team back at Dovenby have continued to work very hard to ensure the cars are ready for the challenge.”
Craig Breen, said:
“I’m really excited to discover a new rally in Umea. I’ve done the rally many times before in Torsby, but it’ll be completely new this time, and I’m looking forward to having some great conditions. This is the first rally on loose surfaces with the new cars and the Puma hybrid, so hopefully it’ll be good.
“Obviously, we start near the front of the road on the first stage, so that will be something new for me to discover. Being second car on the road will be not the best conditions but honestly, it’s a challenge I’m looking forward to. It comes with having a good championship position, so at the end of the day it’s good for that reason.
“I’m hoping for a good event, trying to build more confidence with the car like we did in Monte Carlo, and to see if we can get another strong result; the most important thing is to keep the championship position strong heading into Croatia, so let’s see how it goes.”
Gus Greensmith, said:
“We’re looking forward to Rally Sweden, especially now it’s based up in Umea. From what we’ve seen the stages look really, really fast, some of the fastest I’ve ever seen, so that’s going to be really exciting. Generally, the conditions sound great so we’re looking forward to having big snowbanks to lean on. From my previous experience of testing the Puma last year on loose surfaces, the balance of the car and everything feels great, so we’re excited for this one.”
Adrien Fourmaux, said:
“I’m really happy to come back to Sweden after two years, and it looks like we’ll have nice road conditions for this famous rally. The atmosphere is so special with this being the only event with 100 per cent snow, so its always something I look forward to as I enjoy driving on snow. For sure, I want a good result but first of all I want to enjoy it and get some experience on this surface. It’ll be the first time for me on snow in a WRC car, so it will be quite a big step, but I’m really looking forward to it.”
Jari Huttunen, WRC2 driver, said:
“I’m very excited to start rally Sweden, it’s nice to be back with M-Sport for my first rally this year. This is a very unique event with some challenging conditions, but it’s a great opportunity to add to my experience in WRC2.
“We’ve got a new location and some new roads, and it’s also my first time on snow with M-Sport Ford – so let's see what we can do.”
Mattias Adielsson, WRC2 driver, said:
“It will be a fantastic opportunity and proud moment for me to start our home rally in WRC with M-Sport Ford World Rally Team. I feel very well prepared for the upcoming challenge, and I know I have the material to be at our best in a Fiesta Rally2!
“But I’m also humble and I know the guys in WRC2 are much more experienced drivers then I am; luckily it is our home surface and I think we can put down some really good pace during the rally once we start feeling comfortable.”
Published 21 February 2022