M-Sport Ford World Rally Team’s EcoBoost-powered Ford Fiesta WRCs have completed the only full-snow event of the year at this weekend’s Arctic Rally Finland – Teemu Suninen and Gus Greensmith securing eighth and ninth places respectively.
While the stages looked incredible with full winter conditions, the high-speed sections that characterised much of the event didn’t fully suit the top-specification Fiesta and the team had to forgo an opportunity to fight for the top positions.
But having analysed the data, the Fiesta remains as competitive as ever given the right circumstances. Driving well, both Suninen and Greensmith set top times through the tricky, more technical split sections – and the team will be looking to capitalise on this as the season progresses.
Elsewhere in the WRC 2 category, Adrien Fourmaux was holding his own against a strong and experienced field – keeping snow-specialist and Rally Sweden record-holder Eyvind Brynildsen honest in an intense battle for fourth place.
But when it looked as though the young Frenchman would retake the position yesterday afternoon, he ran slightly wide through the second pass of Mustalampi (SS6) – lodging his EcoBoost-powered Ford Fiesta Rally2 in a ditch mere kilometres from the stage end.
Restarting to complete all of today’s speed tests, Fourmaux secured ninth place and a wealth of experience on what was only the third winter rally of his career.
Team Principal, Richard Millener, said:
“I think we can all agree how fantastic the stages have been and what a top job the organisers have done here in Rovaniemi.
“It’s not quite been our weekend, but we know where we are losing and where we need to improve. We’re still competitive in the right conditions, and we saw some good times from Teemu and Gus in the more technical split sections where we know we can be quick.
“Both drivers drove really well this weekend and, while we haven’t come away with the results we wanted, we can take a lot of positives from the data and look to build on that as the season progresses.
“In the WRC 2 category, it was also great to see Adrien battling with some of the snow specialists on what was only his third winter rally and first experience of conditions like this.
“He was unlucky to run wide and get stuck yesterday as in normal times there would have been plenty of spectators to get him back on the road in a matter of seconds! But that’s the way it goes sometimes. He’s gained a lot of knowledge for the future, and sometimes you need these experiences to help shape your career.”
Teemu Suninen (8th) said:
“Our rally was pretty good with no issues or mistakes, and I was enjoying the stages a lot. The car felt really nice to drive, and I would say that this is one of the rallies I have enjoyed the most in my career with really nice winter conditions.
“Of course it was a bit disappointing to see that the stage times weren’t where we wanted them to be, but we have struggled in the fast rallies before. In the slower sections the pace was good and we were amongst some of the fastest drivers – so this is where we can aim to make a difference in the next events.”
Gus Greensmith (9th) said:
“Overall I would say that it has been a pretty good weekend for us. The stages have been incredible, and I was happy with my driving – especially on Saturday morning. But of course there’s still work to do and there will always be more to learn.
“It was also a bit disappointing to have given so much time away in the first stage because that hampered us for the rest of the event. I think that’s one of the main things I will take away from this weekend – knowing that I can’t be giving road position away as it doesn’t help me show my potential.”
Adrien Fourmaux (9th WRC 2 / Restart) said:
“The end result wasn’t the one we wanted, but I’m still happy because our goal was to improve our pace throughout the weekend and that’s what we did. We were 0.7 seconds per kilometre off the top guys at the start of the rally, and by the final stage it was only 0.2 seconds per kilometre.
“I have learnt a lot, which was the most important thing for me on this unfamiliar surface, and I’m really happy to have done this rally. The stages were incredible and so much fun to drive. It’s just a shame for the team and my sponsors that we weren’t able to reach our full potential, and I am sorry for that.”