Autosport (UK)

M-SPORT’S YOUNG GUNS READY TO FIRE

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M-sport has reshuffled its pack for 2024, opting for a young driver line-up that it hopes can cause some upsets aboard its Ford Pumas.

The British squad scored two victories last year through star signing Ott Tanak, but ultimately a mixture of misfortune and reliabilit­y issues ended a partnershi­p that promised so much, with the Estonian rejoining Hyundai for 2024.

Replacing such a big name as Tanak is difficult. Talks were held with several drivers, including three-time World Rally winner Andreas Mikkelsen, before the Norwegian opted to join Hyundai to pilot the third car alongside Esapekka Lappi and Dani Sordo. In the end, M-sport promoted Adrien Fourmaux and Gregoire Munster from its WRC2 programme.

A second crack at piloting a Puma full-time in the WRC’S top tier is a just reward for Fourmaux, who impressed after being demoted to Rally2 last year, following a challengin­g 2022 littered with errors.

“It was my goal last year to get back in the Puma for a full season so I’m really happy to be back in the Rally1,” smiles Fourmaux (left), who dominated last year’s British Rally Championsh­ip. “Now we have to do our best to get the most out of it.”

Munster’s opportunit­y follows Puma Rally1 outings in Chile and Central Europe last year. He finished the latter in seventh, and that impressed the team. “I’m eager to start in Monte Carlo, and the goal for 2024 will be first to get some good results and increase the pace rally after rally and try not to make any mistakes,” says the 25-year-old.

While the line-up is relatively inexperien­ced, M-sport team principal Richard Millener believes that podiums are not out of the question this year: “I don’t think we would be doing our job properly if we said we were not aiming for a podium.

“Adrien has a point that he wants to prove and we look forward to seeing how he will go. He is a lot stronger mentally and has better driving consistenc­y. But we’ve also got to be sensible and think about consistent results over this year as not everyone is doing a full season. It does actually give us an opportunit­y to cause some upsets.

“Gregoire had a good season with us last year and knows the team very well. I think it’s exciting to have two youngsters in the team.”

M-sport has addressed some of the reliabilit­y issues with its Puma and intends to debut a new rear wing later this year.

 ?? ?? Munster had two outings in the Puma Rally1 last year – this is Central Europe
Munster had two outings in the Puma Rally1 last year – this is Central Europe
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