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SEP 10, 2023 | M-Sport Press Release


Puma Rally1 on dirt road with fans

GREECE - M-Sport Ford World Rally Team has battled through Acropolis Rally Greece, one of the most challenging events on the FIA World Rally Championship calendar. The team saw strong performances from Ott Tänak, Adrien Fourmaux, and Gregoire Munster, whilst Pierre-Louis Loubet and Robert Virves would face their own unique challenges during the Rally of Gods.
Ott Tänak, the Estonian rally sensation, kicked off the event with a strong opener on Thursday's special stage in Athens, setting the stage for an exciting remainder of the weekend. The team’s high hopes were to be dashed when an issue in the tyre-fitting zone on Friday morning led to time-consuming repairs to the cars water pump. In a show of never-ending resilience, Tänak continued into the afternoon loop despite being dealt a 3 minute 40 second penalty and went on to claim two stage wins. Saturday saw Tänak dealing with a difficult road position, but he continued to fight back, gaining time and positions throughout the day. He would find himself back to fourth overall by the end of the day. A third-fastest time on the event’s final power stage saw him earn another three valuable championship points.
Fan-favourite Jourdan Serderidis had a brilliant weekend with co-driver Fred Miclotte, the pair enjoying a drama-free run through the Greek stages in their Puma Hybrid Rally1. One of his all-time favourite events, Serderidis would finish the event top Greek driver and an impressive 17th overall.
Pierre-Louis Loubet would suffer a very difficult weekend, a water pump  issue on Friday morning meant he had to pull over on the road section before he could even tackle the first gravel stage. With the disappointment of the retirement, the decision was made not to continue the weekend and instead start his preparations for Rally Chile in a few weeks time.
In the Rally2 category, Adrien Fourmaux led the WRC2 standings on Friday morning with his impressive pace, also securing a stage win in SS3. Two punctures in the afternoon would cost him valuable time, but Fourmaux steadily built his pace throughout Saturday, eventually finishing sixth overall, less than 40 seconds behind teammate Munster. His Sunday performance was nothing short of impressive as he climbed a further two positions, securing him fourth overall in WRC2. He capped off the event with a second-place finish on the power stage, adding further credit to his impressive record so far in 2023.
Grégoire Munster had an exceptional weekend, consistently displaying impressive pace without making any major mistakes. He secured top-five times and was awarded the WRC2 Challenger trophy for his strong performance. Competing alongside teammate Fourmaux, Munster's performance served as a promising prelude to his Rally1 debut in Chile.
Robert Virves, known for his past victory in the Junior WRC Championship in Greece, showcased his experience on the tough stages. Despite struggling to find his rhythm at times, he was often competitive with both Munster and Fourmaux. Unfortunately, he retired in the final stage due to suspension damage.
The event saw the Fiesta Rally 2 again show its capabilities over the incredibly challenging Greek terrain, all three drivers consistently setting top-ten stage times throughout the weekend.
Richard Millener, WRC Team Principal, said: 
“Ultimately, we have come away from what will be the toughest rally on the calendar with a fourth overall. Considering the position we found ourselves in on Friday, we have to be happy with that. But, it is certainly a case of what could have been. I feel very sorry for Pierre, especially as he was so prepared for this event, but rally can be cruel sometimes and I know he will pick himself back up again. I would like to also thank Ott and Martin for their determination to not give up, that mentality helped the team continue fighting and get us the result this weekend. Grégoire and Adrien also had a fantastic weekend in the Rally2 category, further showing the progress we are making with the Fiesta. 
Before we leave Greece, a special mention to the organisers and FIA who worked tirelessly to make sure we even had an event this weekend. The team’s thoughts remain with the people affected by the severe flooding in the build up to the event, but I hope the fans enjoyed seeing the action this weekend after what was a difficult few days. Now we have a couple of weeks before Rally Chile where we will be looking for another strong team performance.”
Ott Tänak, Fourth Overall, said:
“It was altogether a very challenging time, not only to the organisers but the whole of Greece. It was extremely tricky and was definitely a big job for them, so to come out from that has been impressive. On the rally side, we can see how quickly the weather can change and that it can change everything. 
It’s one of my favourite events, the stages are cool, and it's not actually so rough. The roads have a really nice flow and most of it is quite wide, so they’re stages you can enjoy.”
Adrien Fourmaux, 11th Overall, 4th WRC2, said:
“It was a great start to the rally, when the stages were quite smooth, but then we had some issues with the tyres and punctures. We lost a lot of time after that, and we were 11th (in WRC2) on Saturday morning, and finishing fourth now, so we can be happy with the rest of the rally.
“The car has been good all weekend, it’s been difficult for everybody because it’s such a tough rally. We can be pleased with the performance of the car when we need it.”
Grégoire Munster, 12th Overall, 5th WRC2, said:
“It’s been a good weekend in Greece, I’m happy about the performance and the stage times we did. For sure Adrien is the reference with the Fiesta and we managed to be close to him, so that’s a good point here. We managed to stay out of trouble, apart from two punctures at the end of stages, and with that we managed to secure a strong end position and win in the WRC2 Challenger class.

“About Chile; we’re really excited to be there, it’s a once in a lifetime opportunity so we want to just grab as much experience as possible and then look to reuse that back in WRC2.”
Jourdan Serderidis, 17th Overall, said: 
“17th overall and 1st Greek driver: it was the objective but you still needed to achieve it! First Greek means so much to me. Fred and myself had a fantastic week, without punctures, without big moments and with decent speed. So I am very happy!”