It’s 20 years since there was no full-time French World Rally Championship driver competing at the highest level, and on Tuesday M-Sport allayed the fears of a nation with the news that Adrien Fourmaux will drive a Ford Puma Rally1 Hybrid on every round in 2022.
The deal has been in the pipeline for weeks now and nobody was more relieved to have it done than Fourmaux himself.
“This is the news I have been waiting for for such a long time,” he told DirtFish.
“I have to say a very big thank you to M-Sport, to Malcolm Wilson, to Rich Millener, to the whole team and, of course, to Ford and to Red Bull.
“I think a few people have known that we have been working towards this for a while now and I couldn’t be more excited about it.”
Fourmaux has been with M-Sport since the start of 2020, but his program evolved from a WRC2-based effort to focus increasingly on driving the Ford Fiesta WRC over the last six months.
He finished in the top six on three consecutive Fiesta WRC outings in 2021 and scored his maiden fastest WRC stage time at Safari Rally Kenya in June.
The 26-year-old has also been at the forefront of M-Sport’s Puma test program – another nod to the fact that this deal was always on the cards.
“The Puma is such an exciting car,” added Fourmaux who, as well as nine-time WRC champion Sébastien Loeb, is among four M-Sport drivers entered for next month’s Monte Carlo Rally.
“It’s been amazing to work with the team, especially with Matthew [Wilson, M-Sport chief test driver] who has given me so much help and guidance with it.
“We were in Finland last week driving in the snow and the sensation and the feeling from the car was just fantastic.
“To be going to Monte Carlo as part of an M-Sport team which includes Sébastien Loeb, as a Frenchman, is a big part of the dream!”
M-Sport team principal Richard Millener told DirtFish: “We’re very happy to have Adrien with us for 2022.
“It’s fair to say it’s not been the best-kept secret. But to have the deal confirmed is really good news and takes away some of the pressure.
“There is, however, still a lot of pressure to get everything sorted for next year. We’re building cars flat out right now and we’ll be at it right up until the day we depart for round one. But days like this one, when you get to tell the world about the team, they’re the good days.
“We’ve worked with Adrien for a couple of years, I’ve worked quite closely with him personally as well and it’s fantastic to see how he’s developed as a driver. Now I’m very excited to see what he – and the whole M-Sport Ford World Rally Team – can achieve in 2022.”