MONTE-CARLO, Monoco - M-Sport Ford World Rally Team readies itself for the opening round of the 2023 FIA World Rally Championship and the return of Ott Tänak to the Ford ranks for the first time since 2017.
The stunning mountainous and snow-capped stages of Rallye Monte-Carlo await as the crews set to tackle the challenge of the season’s only mixed-surface event. With only midday tyre fitting zones to support the crews during Friday and Saturday’s gruelling full days, the crews must combine their speed with an air of caution.
After a successful pre-event test in the Gap region, M-Sport’s crews are ready to launch into the action that spans four-days and covers a total of 325 competitive kilometres.
The team will be reminiscing last year’s fairy-tale result on the inaugural event for the Ford Puma Hybrid Rally1 as 2019 World Rally Champion, Ott Tänak, makes his return to the M-Sport family. Already with three consecutive Monte podiums between 2017 and 2019 under his belt, the Estonian’s Puma Rally1 debut on the world’s stage will be a significant moment for everyone at M-Sport as he hopes to kick-off his 2023 season in style.
Lining up alongside the previous World Champion is Pierre-Louis Loubet, who will be launching his first-ever full season in a top-level car with M-Sport Ford World Rally Team. Competing in a Puma on seven events in 2022, Loubet claimed his maiden stage win and took his first rally-lead as part of the M-Sport team. Having already made memories in a Puma Rally1, the young Frenchman will look to claim his first podium result in what looks to be a promising 2023 season.
Jourdan Serderidis sits behind the wheel of the third Puma as 2023’s first privateer Rally1 entry. Serderidis contested three rounds of the 2022 season in an M-Sport car and claimed an impressive seventh overall on Rally Kenya. The Greek is renowned for his love of the sport, and the team looks forward to welcoming him on a number of events throughout the year.
Alongside its Rally1 ambitions, M-Sport Ford World Rally Team also launches its FIA WRC2 Championship campaign with Adrien Fourmaux and Grégoire Munster ready to rev up their Ford Fiesta Rally2s on Rallye Monte-Carlo.
With a recent victory on Jännerrallye to bolster him, Fourmaux will look to build on previous success on the Monte in Rally2 machinery. Three consecutive WRC2 podiums give him good knowledge and experience on the event as he looks to make a strong return to the world rally stages.
His teammate, Munster, off the back of his WRC2 victory in Japan, hopes to gain further experience on the event after claiming third overall in the WRC2 Junior category on the 2022 edition.
Richard Millener, Team Principal, said:
“We’re thrilled to be starting this new season with Ott leading the ranks. It’s been a productive few months, culminating in the pre-event test this week, and we’re ready to take on what is to come. I think we’re already seeing the benefits of working with Ott, and I hope Pierre comes to gain from this as well.
“Everyone back at Dovenby has been hard at work on both the Rally1 and Rally2 programmes to get us ready for this new season. I want to thank everyone for their commitment so far and together we should be able to deliver some very strong results this year.”
Ott Tänak, said:
“Rallye Monte-Carlo is always a difficult one to expect something, but for sure it’s the trickiest rally of the season. It won’t be any easier this time as well to get into the rhythm right away, so we expect nothing less than another tricky weekend in the mountains.
“We tried to get the best out of our first test days and we were lucky to experience the car in different conditions. It’s never easy to start the season from the blank page and building up the setup, but the boys and girls from M-Sport are working hard and hopefully we are well prepared for the upcoming challenge. I’m really looking forward to our first race together.”
Pierre-Louis Loubet, said:
“I’m really happy with this week’s test; we tried a number of things, much more than usual, and the car felt great. The car is built for these kinds of roads and it’s very enjoyable to drive. I hope we will see similar conditions to the test on the rally next week, that would suit us really well.
“I’m trying to stay calm, it’s a fantastic opportunity to have my first full season with M-Sport, but it’s also a big responsibility and I take that very seriously. So, I’m trying to keep a cool head, and we’ll see how we do throughout the season. We have all the tools we need to do well.”
Jourdan Serderidis, said:
“Starting the WRC season with a Puma Rally1, with M-Sport at Monte-Carlo is first a privilege but also a major challenge. Considering the level of competition and the tricky snow and ice conditions, I will be more than happy to be in the top 20 of this fantastic rally. It’s not only the most beautiful event on the calendar but the most challenging as well. We had a good test in snowy conditions yesterday, so I believe we are ready for the fun!”
Adrien Fourmaux, said:
“Rallye Monte Carlo is, of course, the most famous in the Championship, and it’s always a fantastic way to start the season. We’re hoping for a good result on this rally to give us the best start possible for the WRC2 Championship. It’s one of the most difficult rallies of the season, with tricky and changing road conditions, and we should have the full effect with some snow and ice conditions too. I’m looking forward to getting back out in a Rally2 and seeing what we can achieve.”
Grégoire Munster, said:
“We’re looking forward to going to Monte Carlo for the first time with a car prepared by M-Sport. We’ve done the rally a few times in the past so we have some experience there, but I don’t think it would be realistic to say we will aim straight for a big result. We will just try to get familiar with the car, be consistent throughout the weekend and see where we end up. We want to start our campaign on a good footing.”