This weekend the fifth round of the 2020 FIA World Rally Championship will be held around the Marmaris region in Turkey and the longest running team currently in the championship, the M-Sport Ford World Rally Team are hoping for a strong result on the technical and rough gravel stages of Rally Turkey.
A fortnight ago WRC action returned after a six-month break with the first world event to be held on Estonian soil, where all the M-Sport team drivers finished within the top ten overall.
Due to the short break between the two events, the team chose to re-prep their cars at the Asparan Service Park abroad rather than returning to their base in Cumbria in the UK.
The cars will be changed from the smooth gravel setup they used in Estonia over to a completely different setup that can handle rough gravel. New suspension parts and transmission parts will be fitted to their fleet of cars alongside a larger fan to help cool down the cars in the very hot temperatures that are expected this weekend.
Richard Millener, Team Principal at M-Sport Ford World Rally Team, said on the team’s chances: “We’re confident of a good result in Turkey. The Fiesta has proven strength and performance when it comes to this event, and our drivers are all capable of delivering a good result this week.”
“Estonia wasn’t our rally, but Turkey provides a completely different challenge and I think we have a good chance. All three drivers have recorded strong results here, and I’m sure we can give our rivals a run for their money.”
“I also want to take this opportunity to praise our team of engineers, technicians, truck drivers and logistics co-ordinators. Travelling from Estonia to Turkey and getting the cars turned around in a matter of days was no easy task, but each and every one of them has risen to the challenge. They’ve all shown the spirit we pride ourselves on here at M-Sport, and I hope to see their hard work rewarded with a strong result.”
Esapekka Lappi and Janne Ferm both know how hard it is to compete at Rally Turkey. Last year the duo finished second overall in the rally but they led it for most of the weekend but lost out to Citroen teammate Sébastien Ogier on the final stages of the event.
“We finished second in Turkey last year, and it would be great to follow that up with another strong result this week,” commented Lappi.
“We’ve seen good speed from the Fiesta there in the past, and for sure we will be better suited to these stages. You need to use your head at a rally like this and know when to push and when to take your foot off the pedal. It’s a fine balance between speed and endurance, but if we can get that right then we shouldn’t be too far away from a strong result.”
Teammate Teemu Suninen and co-driver Jarmo Lehtinen are both feeling optimistic ahead of the weekend. Suninen has previously just finished shy out of a podium reach on his two outings at the rally but for this year he aims to build up on what he has learned from last season to hopefully go home with silverwear.
“We had a really good rally in Turkey last year.” added Suninen.
“I learnt a lot that weekend and I think we had the right balance between showing good pace and driving well through the stages without making any mistakes. The goal will be to build on that again this week, and hopefully challenge for another strong result. A rally like this is never easy and it demands a lot physically, mentally and mechanically, but if we can have another clever drive with the right speed for the right sections then I’m confident of another strong result.”
Joining the flying finns in the third car will again be Gus Greensmith and Elliott Edmondson, who both had a great rally last season by winning the WRC2 Pro class, despite overcoming a now-famous dramatic penultimate stage.
Greensmith ran wide into the last corner of the test and he rolled the car into the ditch. They worked hard to get the car back on the road so they could get it fixed ahead of the final stage and managed to hold on to the class victory.
“I’m really looking forward to Rally Turkey, and hope it won’t be quite as eventful as last year!” said Greensmith.
“That has to be the most dramatic win of my career, but it just goes to show how strong the Fiesta is across all categories. That strong chassis should be a big advantage for us this week as we know how demanding the Turkey stages are. They’re the roughest of the year, but they’re also physically and mentally demanding and you need to calculate when to push that loud pedal and when to back off. It’s a tricky balance, but we plan to get it right and continue learning as much as we can.”
Frenchman Adrien Fourmaux and co-driver Renaud Jamoul meanwhile will again compete for the Cambrian team in WRC2 this weekend. The pair finished second at Rally Estonia last time out but they are keen to take their maiden rally win this weekend despite having never entered the rally before.
“This will be my first time in Turkey and I’m looking forward to discovering the stages. We know they will be rough and very demanding, but we also know that the Fiesta is a strong and competitive car so I hope that we can push for another good result. That is definitely our goal, but these stages demand respect and we’ll have to learn fast – discovering the right balance and knowing when to show our speed and when to be more cautious.” Fourmaux said.
Other M-Sport Ford Fiesta Rally2 drivers that are competing in Turkey include Alberto Heller and ‘PEDRO‘ who both are entered in the WRC3 class as well as defending FIA Junior World Rally Champion Jan Solans who is entered with a M-Sport Poland backed Rally2 car.
The rally roars into life on Friday afternoon with the two special stages of Icmeler and Gökce, before continuing throughout the weekend ahead of the rally ending Marmaris Power Stage.