M-Sport WRC boss swapping office for stages at return event

M-Sport team principal Richard Millener will drive in the Return to Rally Stages event next month

Rich Millener

M-Sport World Rally Team boss Richard Millener will get behind the wheel himself when he competes at his team’s Return to Rally Stages event next month.

But will he make a good rally driver?

In preparing a story about Millener’s return, DirtFish elected to go beyond a set of admittedly mediocre results (apart from his second overall and class win on the Barbara Carter Road Rally) and join him on a testing stretch of gravel road in Italy this week.

Millener test was a simple one: to drive DirtFish to dinner. A drive which included what looked to be a straightforward-ish dash up steep gravel road through a vineyard. Luca Pedersoli, co-driven from the rear seat by Dani Sordo, managed the incline four-up in a Volkswagen Golf.

We made it halfway before gravity got the better of traction control (which couldn’t be switched off). Probably because we weren’t in a Ford (which also explains the lack of pictures evidencing Millener’s efforts).

Next month, Millener will be in a Castrol-backed Ford Fiesta R2, where his main target is to avoid what happened last time he ventured into Greystoke with numbers on the side.

“I crashed last time,” he told DirtFish. “Well, I didn’t crash. I went off. But I did come back on. I just want to finish.

“In all seriousness, this is a big deal for us – getting rallying going again in Britain is so, so important and the work we’ve been able to do with Motorsport UK to facilitate that is great.

“The event’s running with all COVID-19 restrictions in mind and we’re just looking forward to a good day and some good competition.”

The August 22 six-stage, 38-mile event will run wholly within the confines of M-Sport’s Greystoke test site.

“We’ve got some interesting entries on the list already,” said Millener. “We weren’t really sure how many cars to expect – but in the end all 45 entries had been sold out within two hours!”

Millener might or might not be the biggest WRC attraction on the entry list, developments on this will be brought to you by DirtFish in the coming days.

While Millener might have a chequered history behind the wheel, his time aboard rally cars hasn’t been completely wasted. He co-drove Elfyn Evans on a couple of occasions before the highlight of his competitive career, guiding Red Bull’s WRC telly star Mike Chen to fifth in class B2 on the Wales Rally GB National event in 2016 (pictured above).

With Chen unable – or more likely unwilling – to reciprocate, Millener will be co-driven by his M-Sport colleague Kirsten Dallas.  

You’ll be able to follow Millener’s progress from his desk to the first stage on DirtFish.

Words:David Evans