Gus Greensmith started his year by beating the two most successful drivers in World Rally Championship history to a fastest stage time on Monte Carlo. After another solid result on the board in Sweden, he was fourth in the championship.
Looking at his current run of form, it’s getting a little hard to remember if that memory is accurate, or a slight obfuscation from time marching onward.
After Ypres Rally Belgium, the picture couldn’t be clearer. Languishing down in 11th in the championship, without a single top five finish since Sweden, it was put to Greensmith by our voice of rally, Colin Clark, that perhaps his season had leveled off.
“I wouldn’t say it’s leveled across; I’d say that’s being polite Colin,” he told DirtFish.
That is indeed polite. Greensmith scored 20 points in those first two rounds of the season – then went on to score 14 in the next seven rounds.
“In terms of results, yeah, it’s gone downhill,” he conceded.
Had he kept up his average points-per-rally tally from that early purple patch he’d be the highest-placed M-Sport driver in sixth overall, right behind Takamoto Katsuta in the fourth Toyota.
But he’s only racked up two points finishes compared to Katsuta’s 100% record post-Sweden.
Greensmith has his theory as to why it’s gone wrong since then.
“We’ve shown good speed on bad rallies,” he said, “especially places like Kenya and Finland and rallies like that. I mean, the potential’s there.
“I think the difference between the beginning of the year is now it’s not coming together into an end result, for one reason or another – whether it be mechanical or driver.”
Greensmith does have a point – it’s been a mixture of problems. He’s not by any means in the same boat as Adrien Fourmaux in the sister Ford Puma Rally1, who has found himself without a car for Greece.
Some of Greensmith’s woe was his own doing. His Portugal and Kenya retirements were driving errors that damaged the car – as was the case in Ypres, when he ran wide at a right-hander and dropped his Puma into a ditch, heavily damaging the rear-left corner.
Fourmaux’s repeated crashes have left him up the creek without a paddle for the Acropolis – but Greensmith has an opportunity to change the tide.
And unlike Fourmaux, his strategy in Ypres had not been to finish at all costs. He’d gone looking for pace.
“We made the plan within my team that we wanted to keep improving and wanted to go faster,” said Greensmith.
“And from our side of things, we weren’t particularly bothered if we made a mistake, we just wanted to try and improve on a few things. Unfortunately, that mistake did happen.”
Expecting to be competing just for himself in the Acropolis, Greensmith will be parachuted back into manufacturer points-scoring duties in Fourmaux’s absence.
Round 10 would therefore be a great time to up his current run of 0.5 points per WRC round.