M-Sport Ford driver Adrien Fourmaux is hoping five successive World Rally Championship rounds in a Ford Fiesta WRC will be his springboard into a full-time factory contract next season.
Fourmaux, who drove the World Rally Car on last month’s Ypres Rally, has been sharing a Fiesta WRC with Teemu Suninen this season but Suninen’s early departure from the team has cemented Fourmaux’s seat at the top table for the remaining four rallies of the 2021 season.
Fourmaux wouldn’t be drawn on Suninen’s exit, telling DirtFish: “I’m only focused on what I’m doing. The good thing for me is that I have these four rallies in the car and I’m going to be getting really valuable experience at the right speed and the right time. I don’t think it matters how it happened.”
And the 26-year-old’s experience has been broadened by recent Puma Rally1 testing.
Fourmaux has driven M-Sport’s hybrid 2022 car on asphalt, fast gravel and slow, rougher gravel roads – perfect preparation for a quartet of events including this weekend’s Acropolis Rally, Finland and all-asphalt round in Spain.
“It is perfect,” said Fourmaux. “It’s really nice to be able to take the feeling and the sensation from driving at good pace on these kind of surfaces. I was testing first in Finland, then in Ardèche in France on Tarmac and then last week we were in Sardinia. The car felt really good.
“Working with the hybrid is really interesting and, like I told you before, it’s going to be a really cool aspect of next year about how and when you use this extra hybrid boost.
“As well as this, coming after the crash [in Ypres] it’s really helping to be back at the pace again. I know the surface is different, the test was in Sardinia on gravel and Ypres is Tarmac, but it’s about taking the confidence back with no pressure.
I think it would be silly if anybody thought we weren't talking to anybody that could be an optionRich Millener on M-Sport's 2022 line-up
“The team has been fantastic for this and working with Matthew [Wilson, M-Sport test driver] is really helpful. We can compare what we are finding with the car and he’s always happy to share the good advice.”
M-Sport Ford has yet to shed any firm light on its 2022 driver line-up, and team principal Richard Millener told the media on Wednesday that no decision would be forthcoming any time soon.
“It’s all a bit up in the air to be honest, there’s a lot of speculation on the internet, there’s a lot of great photoshops, lot of bad photoshops,” Millener said when asked by DirtFish if M-Sport was any closer to cementing its 2022 line-up.
“I think it would be silly if anybody thought we weren’t talking to anybody that could be an option. It will be a while yet before we announce anything because there’s still a lot that still has to fall into place.
“We’re trying our best to do what we can and see what we can do but at the moment there’s nothing official to announce.”
Millener’s counterpart at Toyota, Jari-Matti Latvala, has some driver decisions to firm up too and has suggested Toyota’s full line-up will be confirmed in October.
Latvala revealed that Sébastien Ogier, who will step back to a part program in 2022, is looking at “four to five” rallies while Esapekka Lappi – who will rent a Yaris WRC on Rally Finland – is in a “strong position” for more events with Toyota next year.
“But I need to say this, there is still many drivers not having a seat for next year, there are still drivers on the market,” Latvala added.
“I really hope Esapekka will do a good event [in Finland], have a good feeling and of course that would help also our decision.”