Where M-Sport wants to improve its Fiesta Rally2

Team principal thinks its setups that need worked on rather than the car itself


M-Sport team principal Richard Millener believes the Ford Fiesta Rally2 requires only fine-tuning and setup work to regain its competitiveness in WRC2.

M-Sport had a relatively disappointing showing on the unusually mild Monte Carlo Rally in WRC2 with its drivers unable to challenge for a podium finish.

Lead driver Adrien Fourmaux, who stepped back down to a Rally2 program this year, had warmed himself up with victory on the Jänner Rally in Austria last month but could only manage fifth position on the Monte.

Among a large entry packed with quality, Fourmaux was nearly two minutes behind the victorious Citroën C3 Rally2 of Yohan Rossel, with Grégoire Munster a further three minutes back in eighth.

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“Both Rally2s aren’t really as close as we’d have hoped,” admitted Millener when speaking to DirtFish. “Maybe we need to do a bit more setup work on these real dry conditions with that car. In the damp and wet conditions like we had in Jänner it’s great but on the real clean stuff we don’t seem to be as close.”

A Fiesta has not won an event in WRC2 since Jari Huttunen triumphed on the Monza Rally in 2021. The category has been dominated by Škoda in recent times, both numerically and in terms of results, with Fabias taking the title in six of the past seven years.

“Last year we had a very minimal program with the car from our side,” said Millener. “Customers were running it, but obviously the intention is to get back and try and have a go at the [WRC2] championship.

“We’ve got Adrien in and Grégoire in; both of them can provide us with good feedback. So we’ve just got to take each rally at a time and I think it’s more the setups than necessarily the car, we’ve just got to fine-tune everything.

“Adrien is jumping back from Rally1 to Rally2 and you know what the competition’s like here – it’s incredible, so it’s not easy.”

The level in WRC2 has risen this year thanks to Škoda’s latest Rally2 car, the much anticipated Fabia RS.

Nikolay Gryazin took it to victory on the road before being hit with a five-second penalty for corner cutting. Erik Cais finished fourth in his example, while Oliver Solberg wasn’t scoring points on this occasion but was fifth in the Rally2 class. Between them, the trio won 16 of 18 stages.

“We’ve got quite a bit of stuff still coming throughout the year so it’s not like we’re not developing at all,” said Millener, who is acutely aware of the interest Škoda’s new car is generating.

He added: “We’d love it to be a Fiesta [getting that attention] but a good thing to say here is the technical regulations are obviously working very well.”

Another new car in the highly-competitive category will arrive next year in the form of Toyota’s long-awaited Rally2 Yaris which should intensify the competition even further.

“That will have a hell of a lot of interest as well,” agreed Millener. “But I think, again, I would hope the regulations are stable enough that it doesn’t… I’m sure they’ll be able to tweak a little bit because they’ve got a fantastic base car and big resources like Škoda as well, but that’s no reason for us to say we can’t compete with that.

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“We’ve just got to work a little harder and get ours back [to the front]. It’s still a huge part of our program, huge part of our company. We need to keep developing as it’s what keeps us going.”

Neither Fourmaux nor Munster will drive for M-Sport Ford in WRC2 on this weekend’s Rally Sweden. Instead, reigning Junior WRC champion Robert Virves will make his class debut as the only Fiesta Rally2 on the entry.