M-Sport urges calm after Sesks’ impressive debut

Mārtiņš Sesks surpassed all expectations on Rally Poland, but Richard Millener isn't getting carried away


M-Sport team principal Richard Millener has called for excitement to be tempered over Mārtiņš Sesks despite his stunning Rally1 debut in Poland last week.

Driving a non-hybrid version of M-Sport’s Ford Puma Rally1, the 24-year-old Latvian was aiming simply to slot in between the Rally1 and Rally2 cars, but eventually finished ahead of Andreas Mikkelsen, Grégoire Munster, Takamoto Katsuta and Ott Tänak (who retired on both Friday and Saturday) in fifth place overall.

Running as high as second after SS2, Sesks’ performance was full of highlights – not least a second fastest time on the first forest stage and his pulsating defense of fifth place on Saturday to deny Thierry Neuville two potentially vital championship points by just 0.1 seconds.

Sesks’ adaptation to the car is what arguably impressed most, as he learned its quirks with limited testing and immediately looked as if he belonged.


Nobody expected Sesks to fly as high as he did on Rally Poland

“It’s definitely special,” Millener told DirtFish.

“We’ve seen youngsters come in and score some incredible stage times, but to do it consistently all weekend and by Sunday you’re kind of watching his times, expecting him to be on Thierry’s pace is a little bit crazy, but it’s what happened.

“There’s a lot of other factors. He knows these events very well. He’s driven on these roads all his life, so he knows better than ever the conditions and how slippery it can be and how to drive.

“Irrespective of that, just a mega performance.”

But as excellent as his drive was, Millener doesn’t want to get carried away with what Sesks can achieve going forward.

“I think we need to just… I don’t want to be negative,” Millener added, “but I think we just need to temper excitement a little bit.

“Fantastic result for him, what he’s achieved there beating the regulars is incredible, so let’s just take one day at a time.”


Sesks will get to drive the Puma Rally1 again at his home event, Rally Latvia, later this month

Sesks himself described his debut as “incredible”, adding: “[I’m] quite sad to leave the car now here because I really enjoyed the drive.”

But after returning to the wheel of his Toyota GR Yaris Rally2 in the European Rally Championship on this weekend’s Rally Estonia, he will pilot a Puma Rally1 again at Rally Latvia two weeks’ later – this time with a hybrid kit installed.

Sesks has won his home event twice before – and even won every single stage in 2022 – so has good past form coupled to his standout Poland performance.

“Actually, I hope that a few more tickets will be sold after this weekend for Latvia,” Sesks told DirtFish. “I think it brings excitement for fans when there’s a local driver driving. It will be interesting of course.”

But he doesn’t feel his result in Poland increases the pressure for Latvia.

“No, I don’t think so,” Sesks explained. “OK, we now had our first rally and again, one day testing. Yeah, we know the roads, but everyone’s fast here [in the WRC].”