M-Sport Ford team principal Richard Millener is hopeful of seeing more fastest stage times at next week’s Rally Estonia, following a ‘positive’ three-day test on roads close to Tartu.
The British team arrives back in Europe on the back of its strongest performance of the season, with Gus Greensmith and Adrien Fourmaux finishing fourth and fifth at Safari Rally Kenya.
Millener wants to see the team taking the next step to build that pace further at round seven when Teemu Suninen replaces Fourmaux in the second factory Fiesta WRC.
“We made good progress,” Millener told DirtFish, of the three-day test which concluded on Monday.
“We were working with Reiger on the suspension side, we wanted to find more stability at high speed and work on the way the car was flying over the jumps. We noticed the front was lifting a little bit last year. We’ve done both of those things working with the damper in conjunction with the chassis.
“Obviously we’re there with the new engine, which is working very well and making a difference with the speed. It’s all positive and we want to build on what we achieved from Safari.”
Asked if building meant the step to a podium, Millener said: “I still think that could be difficult. We should have an advantage with the running order on day one.
“I’d like to think we could capitalize on that and chase some [fastest] stage times. Then we need to be there or thereabouts if anything happens to the guys right at the front.”
As a result of the British government’s quarantine policy for anybody travelling from Kenya, the M-Sport cars were rebuilt in Estonia. Millener was quick to pay tribute to the team’s efforts, adding: “Without the commitment from those guys, we simply couldn’t be doing what we’re doing.
“The pandemic logistics – the quarantine period – meant Malcolm [Wilson, M-Sport managing director] and I couldn’t be there, but those guys did a fantastic job. I’m really proud and very grateful of the effort they’re putting in in what will be a difficult 20-plus days away from home.”