M-Sport Ford’s Adrien Fourmaux can understand why the team’s patience was tested on last month’s Ypres Rally Belgium when he crashed on the final morning – saying if he was in managing director Malcolm Wilson’s position he would also be frustrated.
Fourmaux’s 2022 World Rally Championship campaign has been a year to forget, punctuated by a string of crashes in Monte Carlo and Croatia in particular that led to the possibility of him being benched for Rally Portugal.
While that threat never came to pass, Fourmaux won’t compete on this weekend’s Acropolis Rally Greece as a result of chassis damage from when his Puma Rally1 smashed a telegraph pole in Belgium rather than as a direct punishment for crashing out of fifth place.
Fourmaux has still traveled to Greece though, completing the pre-event recce and will stick around across the weekend to help the team in whatever way he can.
“It was really good for me to do the recce, to have the knowledge of the stages and also some understanding also of the roads again,” Fourmax told DirtFish.
“Because it’s still good to do some stages, even if it’s not at the race pace, for sure it’s below the race pace, but just to still think what would be the tire choice, what would be the rhythm. From the outside, I will watch and see ‘OK, for me I want to do that, so what will we do?’
“During the rally it’s always a bit more difficult because we don’t really have the time to analyze, so I will take the advantage to analyze a little bit.”
Fourmaux has taken the time to analyze his Ypres accident too, and he believes his main mistake was driving while feeling ill rather than the actual accident itself.
“It went wrong at the beginning of the day,” he explained.
“I was throwing up a lot on the parc fermé, so I was ill. But then on the morning I was like ‘OK, we are doing good times even when we are ill’, so it seems that in the stages it doesn’t really disturb me.
“But then we came back to the service, then I couldn’t really drink, I couldn’t really eat something. So then I said ‘OK, in the morning it was fine, so in the stages it will be OK’.
“And Alex [Coria, co-driver], a few times on the road section, he was like ‘Adrien, are you OK?’ ‘Yeah, yeah, yeah.’ ‘Are you OK?’ ‘Yeah, yeah, yeah.’ And then I said ‘OK, let’s do a good stage. If we drive fast but not crazy, I will be focused, and if I’m focused it will be OK’.
“It was a simple stage I would say. So we started, it’s really fast, you have fast corners, you have a long straight, a square right and then after you have this 800-meter straight.
“And on the 800m straight there was a lot of things going into my head like ‘you have to stay focused’, ‘oh no, but listen to Alex’ etc. And then I arrived, I understeered the corner and accelerated on.
“I didn’t feel right. In the end the right thing would have been to just say ‘OK, I’m bad’. But the morning was OK. I was like ‘naa, but it was OK in the morning’. So I did it. The wrong mistake was the first time for me to drive when I was ill, but I will remember [for the future].”
Asked if anything positive had been discussed and learned from with the team, Fourmaux replied: “I think we always learn from the mistakes, unfortunately. So for me I have learned that when I’m ill I need to be careful.
“For sure it was frustrating and yeah for sure it’s not easy, Malcolm was disappointed, I was. How it can be different, actually. And I completely understand the situation. If I was Malcolm, for sure you are frustrated, you are disappointed, you don’t understand.
“I’m already working on the next rallies, and also myself, to prepare,” he added.
“Because the time between the rallies is so short, actually, it’s only one or two weeks but we have also the tests etc. You need also time to rest, but then you don’t really have the time to prepare. So I take the time to prepare the future.”
M-Sport team principal Richard Millener insisted that Fourmaux was never really in the team’s bad books, explaining that the frustration of such a bruising weekend boiled over when he faced the press in Ypres.
“I think it’s very difficult at the time when you’re interviewed straight after a very difficult, challenging day, you can have a different outlook on things at the time and as time passes by you tend to change your view a little bit,” Millener told DirtFish.
“I don’t think Adrien was ever out of the good books in any way as a person, frustration’s about the accident on Sunday and no-one more so than him himself was frustrated about it.
“But unfortunately we have one chassis per driver really, so the damage that was sustained from the telegraph pole kind of put an end to coming here.
“He’s still here, he’s helping the team out this weekend, I think that goes to show that he’s still a major part of the team and we don’t intend for that to change.”