Fourmaux’s 2023 begins with Jänner Rally win

Preparations for Adrien Fourmaux's season are underway with a first win since 2020


M-Sport Ford driver Adrien Fourmaux has started his 2023 season off with victory on Austria’s Jänner Rally behind the wheel of a Ford Fiesta Rally2.

Held in wintry conditions similar to the World Rally Championship-opening Monte Carlo Rally, Fourmaux prevailed in what was a tight battle with Simon Wagner who was debuting his Škoda Fabia RS Rally2.

Hermann Neubauer led the way in his older Fabia Rally2 evo after Thursday’s opening stage, but Fourmaux soon hit the front on Friday morning and wouldn’t budge.

But he struggled to shake off European Rally Championship driver Wagner, who was competing on what used to be his home round of the ERC.

Over the course of three Friday stages, Wagner nicked a tenth of a second from Fourmaux on each – indicating how close the battle was between the pair.

However Saturday’s final six stages would belong to Fourmaux who converted a 7.8-second overnight lead into a 9.7s victory (with the gap as high as 14.7s); Fourmaux enjoying the handling of the car in the dirty conditions.

The win was Fourmaux’s first since Rally Islas Canarias in the ERC back in 2020.

Second was however a strong start to Wagner’s season, and he finished over a minute clear of third placed finisher Neubauer.

Jänner Rally was a difficult induction for Fourmaux’s new WRC2 team-mate at M-Sport this season, Grégoire Munster, though.

Using the older generation of Fiesta Rally2 rather than the updated car like Fourmaux, Munster’s rally never really got going.

On the way to Friday’s stages, Munster’s front differential broke meaning he leaked three minutes across two stages and a further 1m40s in road penalties. And once that issue was fixed, the engine water temperature then began to rocket and restricted Munster’s pace some more.

But Munster was trouble free on Saturday and therefore managed to climb up eight places to 12th by the end of the weekend, aided by a powerstage win.

Words:Luke Barry