Adrien Fourmaux, who will make his debut in a World Rally Car on the world stage with M-Sport on Rally Croatia, believes his WRC debut is “completely different” to those of fellow young guns Kalle Rovanperä and Oliver Solberg.
Current world championship points leader Rovanperä and Solberg, who had his first outing in a Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC on the previous round in Arctic Rally Finand, both impressed on their respective first outings in top-level machinery.
But Fourmaux rejected the notion that he would need to deliver a similarly eye-catching result straight away.
“I don’t want to compare my career with Oliver and Kalle because I think it’s completely different,” he said.
The big challenge on this rally will be to use my pacenotes from the R5 for the WRC in my brainAdrien Fourmaux
“If I talk for myself, I would say that it would be a big challenge to go from R5 to WRC+. In the slow section it’s quite similar to the R5, but when you are in a very fast section it’s crazy, just so [much] faster, so the big challenge on this rally will be to use my pacenotes from the R5 for the WRC in my brain.
“I hope to be able to fight how Kalle and Solberg did for the first time but we never know.”
Fourmaux highlighted that the most successful rally driver of all time, his compatriot and nine-time world champion Sébastien Loeb, had a somewhat unremarkable first WRC outing in which he finished ninth on the Tour de Corse driving a Toyota Corolla.
“If you see for example Séb Loeb, his first time in WRC wasn’t his best rally you know, so we’ll see.”
Rovanperä’s maiden outing with the Toyota Yaris WRC on last year’s Monte Carlo Rally yielded a fifth place finish, while Solberg had been set for sixth in Finland earlier this season.
But Fourmaux stressed his target was to demonstrate a strong pace in selected stages, rather than worry about his final finishing position.
“I would like for sure to bring good points but it’s also my first time, so the goal is more to improve for the future. And I think top five in one, two or three stages would be a good start for me.”
Despite the big step up in cornering speeds Fourmaux said he was “not really nervous” about his first world championship outing in a WRC car, given his learning curve after switching to Rally2.
“You know, I’m quite young in rally,” said Fourmaux.
“It’s the same every time for me, discovering a new car; two years ago it was R5 from the R2, now it’s WRC compared to the R5, so it’s quite normal for me.”
World Rally Champion and Fourmaux’s compatriot Sébastien Ogier is eager to see what Fourmaux is capable of after achieving some “interesting things” so far in Rally2.
“First rally at this level most important is to bring as much experience as you can and try to stay out of trouble but that’s never easy, part of the learning is doing mistakes as well,” Ogier told DirtFish.
“I think so far he’s still young in terms of experience, he hasn’t competed on that many rallies in his career and so far he has proved some interesting things so I definitely wish him the best and will be interesting to see how he performs.”
Fourmaux lines up alongside Gus Greensmith in M-Sport’s WRC line-up this weekend, with Teemu Suninen dropping down to WRC2 in a Fiesta Rally2.