Gus Greensmith has rediscovered his “spark” in the World Rally Championship after Rally Finland – his most enjoyable rally since Croatia in April.
Greensmith was the top M-Sport Ford driver home in seventh overall last weekend, although finished close to four minutes off Ott Tänak’s rally-winning performance.
It was truly a rally of two halves for Greensmith who particularly struggled on Friday morning with a lack of rhythm in his Puma Rally1.
Things did improve in the afternoon and got better on Saturday where he took on his favorite stage in the entire WRC – Päijälä – and mimicked a famous line from Kris Meeke after Ouninpohja in 2016.
“It was the best 9m41.4 seconds of my life.”
Greensmith’s “ambition” for Finland was to be in the top seven so in that sense it was mission accomplished, but there are plenty of aspects he wants to improve for the future.
“Generally if I’m talking about the weekend as a whole I’m not that satisfied because of how much time we were giving away in the mornings,” he told DirtFish.
“But in terms of the improvement we made, I am actually really happy. The actual progress we made through the weekend was very, very good, so very, happy with that.
“I don’t think I’ve enjoyed myself as much in a car as I have done this weekend for a very long time. Probably not since Croatia, so yeah, I was really enjoying it.
“I felt like I had a bit of a spark back. Yeah, every stage coming to the end of it there was a big smile. That’s how it should be.”
Asked what areas he needed to focus on going forward, Greensmith said: “I think generally the level of speed on the first pass and the mornings was the main thing. But there’s a lot of factors that made that difference.”
Greensmith’s speed was far more encouraging across the second half of the rally, capped off with a fourth quickest time on the final stage of Saturday.
Quizzed where that up-turn in performance had come from, Greensmith admitted his battle with Pierre-Louis Loubet – which Greensmith was set to win anyway before Loubet retired before the powerstage – was a factor.
“Whenever I’m in a battle that’s something I always tend to thrive on,” he said.
“I hate losing, I always have done,so yeah, it was a little bit more commitment, but just organizing a few things out in my driving as well.
“So yeah, it all came quite good but we really need to build on it.”
But after a barren run of form and mechanical mishaps where Greensmith had scored just eight points from the five rallies before Finland, could Finland be the kickstart his season needed?”
“I think a better result would have been a better kickstart, but in terms of the way my feeling in the car has changed as well throughout the weekend, I’d say it was almost as good as that because I certainly feel like I’ve really enjoyed it.
“I felt like I was driving well on Saturday and Sunday morning as well. So I just need to make the most of a good road position on Fridays.”
That won’t be the case on next week’s Ypres Rally Belgium though, where running towards the rear of the field should be a disadvantage instead of an advantage.
“Yeah, but we know the car on Tarmac is pretty fantastic,” Greensmith reasoned. “So not too worried about going there.”