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M-Sport crews impress on Rally Croatia

Ford Puma Rally1

M-Sport Ford World Rally Team enjoyed a near perfect weekend for its Rally1 crews, with both Adrien Fourmaux and Grégoire Munster delivering fantastic pace and intelligent drives over the tricky Croatian roads.

Croatia Rally would catch out numerous crews across the field, which meant the event was action-packed with both tactics and tension.

Adrien Fourmaux and Alex Coria were all set for another strong weekend here in Croatia. Off the back of two consecutive podium finishes in Sweden and Kenya, the Frenchman had his sights set on a triplet of podiums on three different surfaces. Starting with a cool head, Fourmaux drove with calm composure through Friday, building speed throughout the afternoon loop and putting pressure on Tänak in fourth. Fourmaux would round off the day with an exceptional stage time on SS9, second fastest only to eight-time champion Ogier.

Saturday would prove the crunch point of the rally, with dark clouds descending over Zagreb, the whole service park knew rain was coming. Tyre choices would be the talking point of the day, as teams aimed to predict when and where the rain would fall. Opting for a mostly soft and wet tyre package in anticipation of rain, Fourmaux would prevail (despite the mostly dry conditions) and took the opening stage win on the 15km of SS9. He would continue to fight with the top competition around him, continuing to push Tänak ahead of him, and ending the day fifth overall, securing a crucial eight provisional championship points.

With the focus on a Super Sunday push, Fourmaux went second fastest on the opening test, setting himself up well in the standings. However, an impact with an anti-cut device on SS18 sheared a steering arm, forcing the crew to stop mid-stage to make repairs. Luckily, Fourmaux and Coria were carrying the required parts to fix the problem and after a monumental effort, they completed the stage, dropping only 15 minutes.

Now there was only one goal for the day, the Wolf Power Stage. Fourmaux would show his talent like never before, claiming the fastest time against all of his world champion rivals, and giving him a crucial five additional points and his first ever Power Stage win. He would claim 13 points in total, enough to secure his third overall in the drivers’ championship heading to Portugal. 

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Good race for Gregoire Munster

Grégoire Munster and Louis Louka saw a fantastic weekend in Croatia, delivering their best result this season after a clean and clever drive throughout. Munster, showing the same strategy as teammate Fourmaux, would begin Friday with a sensible pace. Settling into the car and the conditions, Munster would consistently set competitive times against the experienced Mikkelson and Katsuta. 

Despite struggling with his tyres throughout Saturday, Munster continued to drive well and stay close to Mikkelson on stage times. Securing eighth overall at the end of Saturday, Munster claimed three provisional points, his first time claiming Saturday points this season. With SS18 seeing drama for many crews, including teammate Fourmaux, Munster delivered a fantastic, measured drive through the challenging stage and claimed fifth overall. In his mission to bring home much desired championship points, Munster would reach the end of the rally completely problem free and would collect two additional points for coming sixth on Super Sunday and seventh overall.

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William Creighton

In the WRC2 category, William Creighton and Liam Regan had a strong weekend of learning with the Fiesta Rally2. Despite an early puncture on Friday, Creighton quickly got onto an incredible pace, claiming fifth fastest times and an impressive third fastest on SS5 in WRC2, he would hold his own among the hot competition of the category. Unfortunately, speed would get the better of him on the day’s final stage, when taking a corner too fast, he rolled off the road forcing the day to end with recovery.

Saturday’s restart brought a new opportunity for learning and experience in the Rally2. Maintaining a reserved pace initially, Creighton and Regan increased the speed and were posting top-ten times in the afternoon loop, gaining positions with each stage. Sunday brought similar success, as the pair reached the end of the rally problem free. Despite their troubles, the pair finished in an impressive 10th overall in WRC2.

Adrien Fourmaux said: “It’s been a good weekend for us. We’ve been fighting with Ott for the first two days, we were missing a bit of performance sometimes, and were trying things with the set-up. But we found something really good on Friday’s last stages. Then the rain was supposed to come so we had to change things, we had to make a guess based on the conditions, but once we went back to the set up we had on Friday the car felt really good. We’ve been able to push a lot. We made one mistake, a small mistake with big consequences, which is a shame. But it’s like that, you have to be perfect everywhere here. We stayed on the road but we hit a concrete pole [on SS18] so we just decided to fix it and push really hard on the Power Stage to score the points. We got the maximum points, which is great, my first Power Stage win and this is really positive.”