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M-Sport Ford World Rally Team embarks on the final outing of the 2023 FIA World Rally Championship season, crossing continents to visit the picturesque stages of Rally Japan.

Japan’s technical Tarmac awaits M-Sport’s crews, with tricky mountain roads and spectacular landscapes in the Aichi and Gifu regions forming the backdrop to the highly-anticipated event. Arguably the most photogenic rally in the WRC calendar this year, Japan’s stunning scenery is only enhanced by the breathtaking autumnal colours found lining the tight and twisty stages.

Although beautiful, the time of year brings an additional challenge to weather conditions. Putting tyre strategy at the centre of the stage, the WRC season’s final event promises tension and excitement as the crews battle it out across 304 competitive kilometres.

Only the second iteration of the event in its new home in Nagoya, fans will be able to enjoy an all new, event-opening super special built specifically for the rally on Thursday inside Toyota Stadium. The typical three days of action will then follow, with tyre-fitting zones on both Saturday and Sunday adding to the demand on crews, cars and tyres alike.

After consecutive podiums on his previous two events, with his epic win in Chile and a well-fought third-overall on the inaugural Central European Rally, Ott Tänak will look to end the season with a hat-trick in Japan. Claiming second overall on last year’s event, the Estonian pairing of Tänak and co-driver Martin Järveoja will look to end their season with M-Sport and the Puma on a high on the spectacular event surrounded by Japanese fans.

Also back fighting in the Ford Puma Rally1 is Adrien Fourmaux. After delivering some stunning results throughout the 2023 season in a Fiesta Rally2, Fourmaux finds himself back in the top-flight of WRC for this season finale alongside co-driver Alexandre Coria. Off the back of his impressive display in Central Europe, where he stormed to a class win in the RC2 category, the Frenchman is in good stead to return to asphalt to make his Rally Japan debut.

Grégoire Munster returns to the familiar seat of the Ford Fiesta Rally2 after competing in two back-to-back events in the Puma Rally1. The Luxembourg driver will be on the hunt to match his WRC2 class win in Japan last year, hoping to benefit not only from his previous experience here but also his season long experience in both Rally1 and Rally2.

Richard Millener, Team Principal, said:

“It is great to get back to Japan, it’s a very exciting country and a very exciting event. The stages seem even more tricky this year, just adding to the challenge of the rally. It is our last event with Ott and Martin, so I hope they can continue their run of good results with a third podium in a row before we wish them all the best for the future.

“It is great to see Adrien and Alex back in the Puma Hybrid Rally1 car, and although it will be a tricky event to get back into top flight machinery, I am sure they are capable of approaching the rally with a sensible attitude and making the most of their opportunity.

“Gregoire comes to the event in good spirits after the last two events in the Puma Hybrid Rally1 car, and his great result here last year puts him in a good position to capitalise. It would be great to see him and Louis finish the season on a high.”

Ott Tänak said:

“I’m very much looking forward to Japan, I’m a big fan of their cuisine, but also the nature is turning beautiful there at this time of the year and the nights are quite cold. In Japan, there are normally deep forest roads which are very technical and rather slow, but as they are narrow there aren’t really any cuts. We really took the maximum in Central Europe and the target is to finish our season well in Japan.”

Adrien Fourmaux said:

“We have been working hard all season and I discussed with the team about the chance of coming to Japan which I am very grateful for. I spent a few days here already and this country is amazing. It is my first time here and the people are so kind and respectful, and the culture is so interesting. The aim for the rally is to make the most of this opportunity the team has given me. It has been almost a year since I drove a Rally1 car so I need to be careful and ensure I finish every stage and get the most experience.”

Grégoire Munster said:

“I have great memories of Rally Japan last year when I won my category, it was a great event and I have been particularly excited about coming back. I feel like I have improved as a driver a lot since then. I have learned a lot this year driving the Puma Hybrid Rally1 and I increased my confidence in Central Europe. I am aiming for a high result this weekend as I am back in the Fiesta Rally2, I want to repeat my result from last year, but it will not be easy as the competition is very high.”

Published 14 November 2023


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