After a difficult end to last season followed by that crash on the Monte Carlo Rally, Adrien Fourmaux has been a driver under mounting pressure in 2022.
Two retirements in two rallies is not how Fourmaux would have imagined his first full World Rally Championship campaign beginning during the off-season, but that’s ultimately how it panned out.
But blame for the retirement in Sweden could not be laid at Fourmaux’s door. His M-Sport Ford Puma Rally1 failed him with a technical issue before the start of the final day, and up until that point his rally had been going reasonably well.
He wasn’t setting the timesheet alight, but that didn’t really matter. He was making it to the end of the stages. And after a disastrous Monte, it’s exactly what he needed to be doing.
“[Sweden] was a good rally for me honestly,” Fourmaux explained to DirtFish. “After Monte, I think I can be happy.
“It wasn’t really an easy to start the rally. I knew that I had to really avoid any mistakes and this is what I did. The pace wasn’t too bad considering that I wasn’t driving at my maximum for sure. So honestly, it was correct.”
Fourmaux wasn’t entirely comfortable in Sweden. Driving within his own limits posed different problems. He couldn’t be as aggressive on the snowbanks as he would like, he couldn’t lean on the Puma as he otherwise would to get maximum traction.
But rather than aiming for insane headline-grabbing stage times, he knew he had to demonstrate to his bosses that he is a driver that M-Sport can rely on to make it to the end of any given rally, and in a competitive position.
The big lesson is the goal sometimes is not to fight against the drivers but more against yourselfAdrien Fourmaux
“I think there are always some lessons to learn and I think that Monte was a big lesson for me,” he explained.
“So I think and I hope and I’m working on from Monte to push me on the right page for all the rest of this season and I think I take all the positives I can take from that.
“For sure, there are some negatives, a lot of pressure on myself after that but for sure, it’s not the first time something like that happened to me unfortunately, so I always try to keep my head up.
“The big lesson is the goal sometimes is not to fight against the drivers but more against yourself and just to be focused on yourself and your driving and not expecting a result, but more expecting a good performance at the right time. At the present and not in the future.
“I think my mistake was for sure, to be like I can do more. This is my rally, this is Monte my fourth rally, my favorite rally, and I probably put a bit of pressure with that.
“I wanted to do well, I was doing well honestly, but probably too much and I didn’t have to push like that at this time of the rally.
“Probably there is [a time] on Sunday when you have to play for podiums and things like that but not in the third stage of the rally.
“So it permits me to have a big idea, a big view of the rally and not only one stage and to want to do… I think you don’t really need to win one stage to win a rally if you see what I mean.”
Prior to his retirement, Fourmaux was demonstrating that lesson perfectly. He wasn’t driving over his limit, trying to extract every ounce of performance from the car, and yet by SS14 he was still seventh overall, and more importantly, he was the leading M-Sport driver.
And while it felt alien to be driving below his limits, he now grasps why it can be a key tool to deploy when needed.
“I realized that I was slower when I was tense on my driving and I was faster when I was just relaxed.
“So it was quite interesting and for sure, the speed we can carry with those cars on snow, it’s massive.
“But to find the compromise with the speed, with the risk you carry in the stage, playing with the snowbanks, for sure, it’s a good practice and I think I have learned a lot from this rally for sure.”