M-sport crews set-up to take on sardinian scorcher

As the 2024 FIA World Rally Championship approaches the season’s mid-point, M-Sport Ford World Rally Team’s crews are prepared to take on the testing stages of Rally Italia Sardegna, which returns to its west-coast base in Alghero for 2024.

The even rougher follow-up to early May’s Rally Portugal, Sardinia’s unforgiving stages promise more high impact action as the championship reaches its half way mark. M-Sport’s Adrien Fourmaux and Alex Coria, and Grégoire Munster and Louis Louka return to the Ford Puma Rally1 line-up after a positive first half of the season, with William Creighton and Liam Regan returning to the WRC2 category in a Fiesta Rally2 for their fourth outing this season.

Acting as a model for a shorter event format, this year’s Rally Sardegna will appear more condensed than a typical WRC rally. With the ceremonial start staying in its usual Thursday night slot, shakedown will instead happen on Friday morning before heading straight into rally action with four stages in the afternoon. Saturday will follow the same format, with the day punctuated by only a remote tyre-fitting zone before the usual half-day on Sunday.

The condensed format will only intensify this already-gruelling event, with tyre strategy becoming the biggest talking point. With each section of the rally comprised of two loops of two stages, crews must be confident with their tyre choice upon leaving services and tyre fitting zones to conduct both passes with no option to change their package in between.

On top of the usual challenges of gravel rallying, weather conditions will increase jeopardy exponentially. Scorching temperatures can quickly be replaced by heavy downpours of rain that wash away important top layers of gravel and leave crews battling low-grip, muddy conditions.

Adrien Fourmaux is set for another strong event in Sardinia, locked in a tight battle with Ott Tänak for the championship podium with only 8 points now separating them. Off the back of a fantastic fourth overall on Rally Portugal earlier this month, Fourmaux can capitalise on this recent gravel prowess to continue to fight for podium positions in Sardinia.

Including an incredible performance last year in WRC2, where the Frenchman was set to claim victory before being robbed by a sudden weather change on Sunday’s Power Stage, Fourmaux has some valuable experience on the Italian island and will use this knowledge to launch a strong attack next week.

“Sardinia is one of the rallies I have the most experience; we know it’s a rough event, a bit smaller in mileage than previous years, but we know the competition will be very high. It’s going to be like a sprint rally, and we will do our best to get the best result as possible. We are now fourth in the championship, and we want to be back in the podium places. Sardinia is really rough and normally a really warm event. There’s a lot of rocks when you’re going through the second pass of the stages, so it’s going to be quite tough on the car, the mechanics, and the crews so its going to be an interesting rally to follow. There are some beautiful landscapes to enjoy, so let’s have some fun!” said french driver.

Grégoire Munster

Grégoire Munster made his Sardinian debut last year, delivering an impressive performance despite his inexperience; claiming seventh in WRC2 and 11th overall with a handful of top-ten stage times. The Luxembourg driver gave a strong performance on the last WRC round in Portugal, maintaining good gaps to the more experienced crews throughout the weekend and setting him in good stead for Rally Italia Sardegna.

“We’re really looking forward to Rally Sardegna. We know from previous years that the weather can be tricky; we went from extreme rainy conditions to sunny and hot weather last year, so we will have to see what it is like this time. For this year, the itinerary is similar to 2022 with the rally based in Alghero, so we’re lacking a bit of experience there but we’re hoping to carry some momentum and lessons from Portugal to Sardinia. We’re looking forward to continuing our learning curve!” said Gregoire Munster.

William Creighton

Claiming the win here in the Junior category last year, William Creighton is perfectly poised for his first visit to Sardinia in Rally2 machinery. The Irish pairing claimed four stunning stage wins across the weekend and built strong foundations for their return next week. With the rally returning to Alghero this year, the pair will encounter some new stages, but their experience from Rally Portugal will help to inform their approach in another highly competitive WRC2 field.

The FIA Junior World Rally Championship will also make a return for its third round of the 2024 season, as 17 Ford Fiesta Rally3s line-up with upcoming rally talent, ready to battle for victory on this tough event.