What do we know about M-Sport’s 2024 driver plans?

The semi-works outfit is the only team yet to announce any drivers for 2024, so what do we know so far?


Toyota has shown its full hand for next year’s World Rally Championship. And in confirming Esapekka Lappi’s place in its lineup, Hyundai has laid plenty of cards down on the table too.

But what about M-Sport Ford?

So far, the semi-works outfit hasn’t made any driver announcements, and it doesn’t appear in any rush to do so with its own future to consider as well.

However there are some strong contenders for a seat in a Puma Rally1 – some already with the team in 2023, some not.

Throughout the Rally Japan weekend, DirtFish spoke to team principal Richard Millener about various drivers’ performances. This is what we can decipher about their prospects for a seat in 2024.

Japan crash won’t affect Fourmaux’s chances


After a brilliant and reputation-repairing season in M-Sport’s Rally2 car, both in WRC2 and the British Rally Championship (which he won), the last thing Adrien Fourmaux needed was an early accident once back in the Rally1 car.

Given crashes were a major problem for Fourmaux when he drove the car full-time in 2022, it wasn’t the best look in Japan. But Millener was clear that Fourmaux’s incident was unlucky, and will have no bearing on whether he gets a 2024 Rally1 drive or not.

“We’re not going to just not consider him based on what’s happened here [in Japan],” he said.

“I think circumstances of the accident are quite difficult for him. The reason the car snapped so quickly for him on that section was basically a running water stream just down one side of the road, so when he’s braked two wheels have grip, two wheels have not and from what he tells me, about 25/30 minutes after the accident that stream of water had gone away.

“Dani [Sordo] was there watching Adrien go off and he said he came to the corner far slower than he did and still went, so just very bad luck really in some ways. It’s just sad that it ended in a rally retirement as opposed to just resetting and going again.”

Fourmaux would appear to be a strong candidate for a drive, but he told DirtFish after CER that he wouldn’t know his future until December.

An all French lineup?


This year M-Sport had a clear number-one driver in Ott Tänak, who was partnered by Pierre-Louis Loubet for what should have been his first full season had he not missed Japan, vacating his seat for Fourmaux.

It wasn’t the smoothest of years for Loubet, but there’s absolutely nothing to suggest that he couldn’t remain an M-Sport Rally1 driver in 2024.

During his last event in CER, Loubet made clear to DirtFish his “target” was to be back, but could Fourmaux’s potential promotion cause an issue for Loubet?

It doesn’t seem so.

“I’d like to keep them both if we could,” Millener said. “They’ve both got experience in the car; Pierre one and a half years, Adrien pretty much a full year last year and then here, and they’re both working in the team – they know who we are, how we operate and what we do.

“You’ve got to look for the most experience which is those guys, but then there’s other options.”

What about Munster?


Grégoire Munster must certainly be one of those ‘other options’ Millener mentioned.

Alongside Tänak, Loubet and Fourmaux, he is the other driver to have had an M-Sport WRC program in 2023 – driving the Fiesta Rally2 for the majority of the season but enjoying two Rally1 drives in Chile and Central Europe, and even a couple of Junior WRC events in a Rally3 Fiesta.

Munster’s Rally Japan ended in disappointment as he slid off a bank and out of second place in class on the final morning, but before then he was just a handful of seconds behind WRC2 champion Andreas Mikkelsen.

“Grégoire is really still in a very early part of his career in WRC anyway,” Millener said last Saturday, before Munster ultimately retired.

“We know he excels in these kind of conditions, [he’s] done a lot of rallies back home in the dirty conditions so I think I wouldn’t say we expected the performance but we know he’s comfortable in those conditions.

“I think the big thing for me that was impressive was today [Saturday] where it was a lot drier, and consistently keeping up with Andreas or beating him. He’s had a really, really strong day.”

As for his chances of a Rally1 drive next year?

“Grégoire had a couple of good rallies this year and I think he showed some potential in Rally1, but also if we end up with Adrien in Rally1 we’d have to find people in Rally2!

“So there’s a lot of discussions going around at the moment to work out what would be the best opportunity for the team.”

Sponsor clash complicates things for Solberg


As Oliver Solberg joked in commentary during Rally.tv’s live coverage of SS3 in Japan: “There are a lot of rumors, it looks like people know more than I do around social media!”

He added: “It’s not hard to be honest with this question. Right now I don’t have anything. A lot of meetings, a lot of things going on but still a lot of things in the air, far away from done.”

Speculation had been that Solberg was in talks with M-Sport Ford, but there would be one very obvious hurdle to clear for that to ever be successful. M-Sport is currently sponsored by Red Bull, while Monster Energy is a big personal backer of Solberg’s.

“Of course we are open to discussing with everybody and it would be crazy to think we hadn’t thought of the opportunity and discussed with them,” Millener said.

“Obviously there are some issues away from the driving side that we’d need to look to resolve in terms of partnerships, sponsorships. There’s so much that goes into creating a team that makes sure you can bring everything together but yeah Oliver’s done a great job and also has experience in a Rally1 car as well.

“So we’re actually quite lucky in that we have a good field of juniors to choose from, but at the minute there’s so many talks going on with the general running of the team that we’ve got to get those finalised and that will then allow us to start filling in the rest of the puzzle for who can sit in the seats.”

Mikkelsen is unlikely


Of all the drivers waiting for a chance in a Rally1 car, Andreas Mikkelsen is at the front of the queue given he claimed a second WRC2 title in three years this term.

But the Norwegian’s rhetoric around a Rally1 chance has been the same for a while now: “It’s definitely number one priority, that’s what we are fighting hard for. But if that doesn’t happen then it’s not the end of the world.”

In short, he wants to be back in the top class but not at any cost. An M-Sport drive would likely require him bringing budget, and that would be a problem for Mikkelsen.

“I mean we haven’t had so much discussions,” Mikkelsen told DirtFish.

“Obviously during a season we’re always in contact with all the teams, but at the moment it’s difficult there. I think we need to bring some budget and that’s out of the question for us.”

Loeb not an option either


Sébastien Loeb made quite the impact with his small program of rallies for M-Sport last year, leading three of them and winning the Monte Carlo Rally to kick off the new Rally1 era.

M-Sport would naturally benefit from the experience and skills from the most successful WRC driver of all time, but Loeb doesn’t appear to be an option.

“Unfortunately I think his new exploits in Dakar [signing for Dacia in 2025] mean we won’t be seeing him in WRC anymore, which is a shame,” Millener said.

“We asked him if he fancied doing anything else, but as great as it is to have him in the championship, and it’s been an absolute pleasure working with him, I think for us it’s important to develop the next set of talent for the next 10/15 years.

“Bringing people like Séb back into the series for the odd rally is great but probably isn’t, no disrespect to him, the future or the long-term success of the sport.

“I think our goal is to develop younger talent and make sure we have all the drivers available for going forward.”