For Adrien Fourmaux, the chance to drive a Rally1 car in the World Rally Championship has come again at last.
The Frenchman will drive the second M-Sport Ford Puma at next week’s season-ending Rally Japan – a gift from the team after a year in which he has shown maturity, dedication to his team and ultimately a huge amount of speed, taking no less than eight class victories in Rally2 machinery culminating in what he described as “probably” the best win in his career at last month’s Central European Rally.
Fourmaux’s Japan outing won’t be the first time he’s sat behind the wheel of a Puma, having made 10 starts in the car across his tumultuous 2022 season.
But the French driver will be treating his return to Rally1 as if he’s making his debut at the WRC’s top level all over again.
Fourmaux told DirtFish: “We’ll try to make some good times as I did in Croatia in ’21, show sometimes some good pace and then be back after just to make sure I don’t make any mistakes.”
Croatia Rally 2021, of course, marked Fourmaux’s debut in a World Rally Car, and he made quite the impression – setting a string of fast stage times and finishing a strong fifth overall in his M-Sport Fiesta WRC.
So does the French driver think a similar result could be on the cards this time around?
“For the overall classification don’t expect so much I think,” said Fourmaux.
“I think you will misrespect the other drivers if you think I will beat them on the next rally,” he added. “I am coming against them with no testing.
“They have been driving the car all the season so they perfectly know the car.”
Fourmaux also noted that he will be playing catch-up compared to his rivals when it comes to experience on the twisty and tricky Japanese roads, further tempering his expectations.
“The preparation for Japan will be quite [a lot of] study I would say,” said the Frenchman. “I will work on the video from last year if the stages are similar, I need to have a look at it first.
“But we will not be testing so it will be a new rally for me, not as before, so [to] jump into the Rally1 for shakedown it will be quite challenging.
“I just want to take it [the Rally1 drive] as a present after a really good season, and just enjoy the drive.”