How far away is a first WRC win for Fourmaux?

With two consecutive podiums under his belt, can M-Sport's lead driver break into the winners' circle?


After three rounds of this year’s World Rally Championship, Adrien Fourmaux lies third in the standings, with two podium finishes to his name. While the received wisdom was that Fourmaux had benefited from his demotion to Rally2 machinery for 2023, it’s fair to say not many would have predicted this strong a start to 2024 for the M-Sport driver.

Let’s remember, his previous best WRC result was a couple of fifth places in 2021, and he managed no better than seventh in a disastrous 2022 campaign.

The upturn in performances – and, crucially, results – inevitably leads to the question of how long it will be before we see Fourmaux stand on the top step of a WRC podium.

What has impressed many about Fourmaux this year is his mature, professional attitude. No longer is he seeking to show the world how fast he is on every stage. Now the 28-year-old is able to keep a cool head. He realizes that the most important objective is to bring the car home on every rally, scoring solid points and maximizing results while minimizing the risks he takes.


Fourmaux's gaze could be averted to the top two steps of the podium

Fifth on the Monte Carlo was followed by third on Rally Sweden – where he also banked second-place points for Saturday’s classification – and another third place on the Safari.

In each case, Fourmaux showed strong pace, including a stage win in Sweden. But he hasn’t put everything on the line, especially once others have hit trouble and a good result is there for the taking. The fact he is yet to score a single powerstage point this year, and only once has he broken into the top three of a ‘Super Sunday’ classification clearly indicates a safety-first approach to events’ final days.

Safari in particular was a very measured drive, of which Fourmaux himself was rightly proud.

“I think we have been really clever on this rally and in our approach,” he told DirtFish. “We have been seventh on the first loop of the rally and then finishing on the podium. I’m really pleased that the plan we had was working properly, pushing when it was clean and then really slowing down when it was rocky and rough.


Red Bull-back driver now knows how to keep a cool head

“I have to say that it also deserves credit to the team because we had no issue at all, all the weekend, with the car. They have been pushing quite hard since Christmas to get the car reliable this year and we had three events with no issue, especially here in Kenya. We have changed only one time the bumper, but just the bumper. Of the rest, it was all in one piece every time, not even something loose or whatever, it was just really good.”

There is a strong argument to say Fourmaux has been the WRC’s most consistent driver so far in 2024. Who would have dared suggest that pre-season?

But maturity, reliability and consistency are one thing. Taking the next step to become a WRC rally winner is an altogether different task. Just ask five-time podium finisher Takamoto Katsuta.

Fourmaux has been open that his previous chance in a Rally1 car came too soon. He’s also admitted that his start to the season has bettered his own expectations.

Achieving that first WRC podium was an important milestone. Proving it was no fluke by immediately backing it up with another was also a demonstration that Fourmaux has raised his game. Can he now take the next step?


M-Sport Ford Puma Rally1 hybrid withstood all that Kenya could throw at it

“I was expecting to get a podium in the second half of the season and we have already two on the trot,” he said. “It’s really good for the championship, but also I think it makes the championship interesting to have the three different cars in the top three. We’ll have a really good road position for Croatia, so for now it’s a really good start and I’m really pleased for that.”

It sounds like Fourmaux’s keen to keep his Puma up there in the standings by capitalizing on that strong road position for Croatia’s tricky asphalt stages. Is he daring to dream of a win this year?

“We still have to work on different things on the car,” Fourmaux cautioned, perhaps also remembering his opening-morning crash in Croatia the last time he contested the event in a top-flight car.


Fourmaux had an unscheduled visit to a Croatian garden in 2022

“Now we are reliable, we need to push a little bit more for performance. There were some places where we struggled a little bit. We are pushing on it. We are trying to do the same with the Rally1 as we did last year with the Rally2 to make the car faster.

“So hopefully it’s going to work and then we can get a better podium [position].”

Second position is better than third. Trying to take one step at a time is a sensible approach. There is no doubt Fourmaux would need to lift his pace to challenge for wins on merit. That can change a driver’s mindset and risks reintroducing the mistakes that blighted his previous spell in the Rally1 car.

And let’s not forget the car itself needs to be capable. The only drivers to win in the Puma are world champions Sébastien Loeb and Ott Tänak. The car is quick, but it’s not easy for M-Sport to keep up with the manufacturer might of Toyota and Hyundai.


Could Fourmaux add to Puma's win tally?

But, assuming he has the car underneath him, can Adrien Fourmaux join the elite group of just a handful of drivers who are capable of maximizing their machinery’s potential and win rounds of the WRC?

“That’s the plan, isn’t it?” he candidly admits. “I think we show that we are improving every time, every rally. So the pace is coming, we are reliable. So now we need to improve the pace, but step by step.

“So maybe it’s going to be second and then, after, first. Or maybe it will take more time, I don’t know. We are working on it and maybe one day it will come; maybe sooner.”

His inner belief has withstood the battering that Fourmaux and his cars took in 2022. Now he’s blending it with the other attributes required to be a winner.

It’s probably unrealistic to expect a victory this year, but is it coming in future? Time will tell.