The 2023 FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) season has been one filled with ups and downs for the M-Sport Ford team as it scored a fifth place finish at Monte Carlo, claimed victory in Sweden, stumbled a bit to ninth overall in Mexico, earned second place in Croatia, took home a fourth-place finish in Portugal, secured third place in Sardinia, and mustered eighth place in Estonia. At this past weekend’s Acropolis Rally Greece – or the Rally of Gods, as it’s otherwise known – that trend continued as the M-Sport Ford team faced its fair share of challenges.
Ott Tänak once again led the way with a strong start on Thursday’s special stage, but an issue with his car’s water pump cost him some time. Regardless, he took his three minute, 40 second penalty in stride, earning two stage wins before finishing fourth overall on Saturday and scoring three championship points by the time all was said and done. He’ll continue to chase points at the upcoming Rally Chile, which takes place in a couple of weeks.
Meanwhile, Jourdan Serderidis and co-driver Fred Miclotte put on a strong show and finished 17th overall, though the same cannot be said of Pierre-Louis Loubet, who wound up retiring after suffering his own water pump issues. In the Rally2 category, Adrien Fourmaux stood atop the standings on Friday morning and earned a stage win in SS3, then managed to finish sixth overall in spite of two tire punctures. As for the rest of the M-Sport Ford team, Grégoire Munster took home the WRC2 Challenger trophy, while Robert Virves was forced to retire from the Junior WRC Championship event after he incurred damage to his car’s suspension.
“Ultimately, we have come away from what will be the toughest rally on the calendar with a fourth overall,” said M-Sport Team Principal Richard Millener. “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.”