GREECE - The M-Sport Ford World Rally Team recorded four strong finishes at the end of the Acropolis Rally, finishing the World Rally Championship’s fabled Greek event in the top five overall and with a podium finish in the WRC2 category.
In the senior team, rising stars Adrien Fourmaux and Gus Greensmith were set to continue an enjoyable battle for fifth place in their EcoBoost-powered Ford Fiesta WRCs but sadly misfortune struck Fourmaux and Belgian co-driver Renaud Jamoul when an engine issue needed resolving before the opening timed stage of the day, costing him a time penalty as he fixed the problem but arrived late to the time control.
This drama allowed Greensmith and his Northern Irish co-driver Chris Patterson through into a strong fifth place overall, the pair delivering a faultless day’s running to reach the finish in the team’s second-best result of the year.
Fourmaux’s recovery drive saw him lodge the second fastest time overall on the penultimate stage as he was locked in a battle with last year’s vice-champion Elfyn Evans for sixth place. Sadly, Fourmaux made a small mistake on the closing Power Stage that allowed Evans through and saw the French youngster come home in seventh place. However, with the spin removed, Fourmaux’s times saw him on a level par with the fastest time through the final speed test.
Local hero Jourdan Serderidis, guest star on the M-Sport Ford World Rally Team in a third Ecoboost-powered Ford Fiesta WRC, also had another successful day’s running. Serderidisand experienced Belgian co-driver Frederic Miclotte completed the top 10 WRC runners and deservedly won acclaim from the large and passionate Greek fans lining the route of the event.
In the WRC2 category, the Russian pairing of Nikolay Gryazin and his co-driver Konstantin Aleksandrov completed a thoroughly successful debut with the M-Sport Ford World Rally Team. The pair finished on the podium in third place for the class, having gained valuable experience of the car from which to continue their campaign through the rest of the season.
M-Sport Team Principal, Richard Millener, said:
“Overall it’s been really good to see the team firing on all cylinders, the drivers have all done what we expected of them, they’ve pushed where and when they can but not to the point where the Acropolis has bitten them, as it so easily can do.
“Obviously, Adrien would have loved to keep his fifth place after holding that position so strongly all weekend. But sometimes the rally gods intervene and while his problems this morning were unforeseeable he coped brilliantly and responded with some great pace through the day.
“Gus had been really focused all weekend and you could see that he was really enjoying the battle with his team-mate. Fifth place was a good return for all that effort, and a very well deserved haul of points for him in the championship.
“Both of our newcomers have been impressive this weekend. Jourdan really had the spotlight on him because the Acropolis is an event that means so much to the Greek community. He has coped with the attention brilliantly, kept his head and driven a clean, fast rally.
“In many ways, Nikolay really had a mountain to climb in getting used to an entirely new car and team set-up, and he applied himself brilliantly. He’s a fierce competitor and will want to be closer to the ultimate pace in future, but it was a well-deserved podium and a great reward for him and the team.”
Gus Greensmith (5th) said:
“The team have lived-up to the form that we have shown on rougher rallies this year and, although probably I could have hoped for more in terms of my finishing position, a top-five finish is a good thing for sure. I gave it everything I could.
Adrien hit problems early on this morning which you never like to see. We were having a great battle until that point, and he was at least able to continue and score good points.”
Adrien Fourmaux (7th) said:
“A mixed day for us really, after picking up penalties for being late this morning because of an engine issue. We were able to set second-fastest time on one stage, but that early problem allowed Gus to pull ahead of us and I was left to fight to hold my position.
“On the Power Stage, we made a mistake: unfortunately I spun and had to reverse but I tried, I had a big push, but unfortunately we ended the rally in seventh place. It has been an amazing event to experience and I’m delighted for the team that we have shown our pace and got the cars home, I just am sorry to them not to be higher at the end.”
Jourdan Serderidis (10th) said:
“It was fun, so many people, so many fans from Greece and it was nice to come and the stages have been fantastic. It was great to be here and to get the car safely to the finish in the top 10 of the rally. The team has built a fantastic car, I want to thank them for an unforgettable event.”
Nikolay Gryazin (3rd, WRC2) said:
“It’s been okay, a lot of things to work with but at least we are on the finish. We have a lot to learn about the car and the team but a podium finish at our first attempt is certainly something to take away from our first Acropolis.”