The publication of the Rally Finland entry list is always a much-anticipated moment. In years past it’s offered news of locals who’ve put everything into a one-off World Rally Car effort in a bid to show the world they’ve got what it takes.
Remember Matti Rantanen in 2009? News of his arrival aboard a Munchi’s World Rally Team Focus RS WRC 08 was one of the highlights of the season for some 12 years ago. Similarly high hopes surrounded Jarkko Nikara and a Mini John Cooper Works WRC four years on.
This time around, one team will have all eyes on it as news drops for who’s who in Jyväskylä come October. M-Sport Ford World Rally Team’s decision as to who it is that joins Gus Greensmith in the second Fiesta WRC will speak volumes about its intentions for 2022.
The natural assumption is that Teemu Suninen will take the seat for his home round of the WRC.
Opinion is split at M-Sport headquarters, but Adrien Fourmaux was forthright in his view about who should be there.
“When we have the next generation of cars coming for next season, if it’s supposed to be me [driving for M-Sport in 2022] then, for sure, I want to feel the speed from the car in Finland,” Fourmaux told DirtFish.
“It would definitely be a big help for the experience, to understand what is happening with the dampers and to know the car more on a rally like this.”
Given that he’s only competed in Finland in a Fiesta R2, would a step up to a Rally2 not make more sense?
Predictably, Fourmaux thought not.
“If you see, for example, Portugal – I’d never done the rally before and in the World Rally Car, it wasn’t too bad,” he said.
“OK, it’s not the best result for sure [Fourmaux was sixth, five minutes off rally winner Elfyn Evans], but it was still quite OK. It’s still a good learning.
“For sure, I don’t want to open the road for the next two days, but it’s part of the game also, and as I said before: if I am opening the road, I take the experience and I hope in the future it will be because I’m doing it on Thursday and Friday.”
DirtFish understands Fourmaux has done more Puma Rally1 testing than Suninen, which indicates the fifth-place finisher on the Safari Rally is closer to landing a 2022 deal to stay with M-Sport. Overlooking a Finn for a Frenchman in Finland would be an even stronger indicator.