M-Sport Ford’s testing start to the 2021 World Rally Championship continued on Arctic Rally Finland. The British team was outpaced again but after analysing split-times team boss Rich Millener and driver Teemu Suninen were able to draw some positives.
Before starting WRC’s new snow rally, Millener was hopeful that Arctic’s tricky conditions would play in the hands of Suninen.
But the ever-improving performances of Hyundai and Toyota proved too much for the Finn and team-mate Gus Greensmith as they finished eighth and ninth respectively.
While M-Sport has switched its engineering focus to master 2022’s regulation change, its rivals have continued to introduce upgraded parts to their current cars.
As a result, M-Sport’s team principal dived into particular sections of Arctic Rally Finland’s stages when analysing his team’s performance.
“It’s not quite been our weekend,” admitted Millener. “But we know where we are losing and where we need to improve.
“We’re still competitive in the right conditions, and we saw some good times from Teemu and Gus in the more technical split sections where we know we can be quick.
“Both drivers drove really well this weekend and, while we haven’t come away with the results we wanted, we can take a lot of positives from the data and look to build on that as the season progresses.”
Suninen, who bounced back from his crash on Rally Monte-Carlo’s opening stage, was pleased with his pace on certain sections of the Arctic Rally.
“Our rally was pretty good with no issues or mistakes, and I was enjoying the stages a lot.
“The car felt really nice to drive, and I would say that this is one of the rallies I have enjoyed the most in my career with really nice winter conditions.
“Of course it was a bit disappointing to see that the stage times weren’t where we wanted them to be, but we have struggled in the fast rallies before.
“In the slower sections the pace was good and we were amongst some of the fastest drivers – so this is where we can aim to make a difference in the next events.”
M-Sport’s rising star, Adrien Fourmaux will take Suninen’s WRC seat on the next round in Croatia, making his top-level debut in the championship.
Fourmaux has asphalt form too, he won the European Rally Championship’s highly competitive Canary Islands finale last November.
Photos courtesy of M-Sport Ford WRT