M Sport Ford World Rally Team’s Teemu Suninen had a great opening day of Rally Italia Sardegna on Friday after taking victory in the opening stage and ended the day in second place, 17.4s behind Hyundai Motorsports’ Dani Sordo.

Speaking following the action the Finn said:

We had a really good morning and I think we proved what we can do. On that first stage I knew it was going to be challenging for everyone and I tried to take as many seconds as I could – which worked out really well. We lost some aero after that which cost us some time, but it was still a good morning.

“Then in the afternoon the tyre choice didn’t really work out for us. We thought it was going to be a bit warmer, but the sun went down just as the last stage started and I wasn’t able to make the most of the hard tyres.

“Still it was a really good day for us, and tomorrow we just have to focus on our own driving and let the others do their own thing. The stages will be a bit faster tomorrow, but the main thing is to do my best – because that’s the way to get the best results.”

Gus Greensmith ended the day in sixth place overall, 1:07.1s behind Sordo and speaking following his time in the car he commented saying:

“This has definitely been one of my better drives and I’m pretty happy with the way things have gone. There were a few little mistakes here and there, and I was a bit disappointed with myself on the first stage this afternoon (SS5) as I think we could have really taken a big chunk out of the people around us. But the time wasn’t too bad, and I can definitely see an improvement which was exactly what we wanted from this weekend.

Esapekka Lappi had a great start to the event coming home in second place in SS1 however on SS2 he was forced to retire from the event and speaking following the action he commented saying:

Our initial pace was really promising so it’s really disappointing that things had to end the way they did. It was all over pretty quickly to be honest. About 300 metres before I stopped we got all the warnings on the screen and the steam from the bonnet and we knew then that it was over. We had a good look and couldn’t see any impacts, but there was no water left in the engine and unfortunately we won’t be back out again tomorrow.”

Adrien Fourmaux ended the day in second place in WRC2 and speaking following the action he said:

We were leading until we got a puncture in the fifth stage. Of course that was disappointing, but still I can honestly say that I’ve enjoyed my day. We had good pace and we have to be happy with that. The rally is still long and nothing is decided so we have to just continue what we’ve been doing so far. The stages are a bit different tomorrow – faster and sandier. It will be a new challenge and a new set-up, so let’s see what we can do. I really like the look of tomorrow’s stages so I hope it will be another good day for us.

M Sport Ford World Rally Team Principal Richard Millener commented on the day saying:

It’s great to see Teemu up there challenging for the top positions. That first time this morning was incredible, and it just goes to show that the potential is there. We’ve always been strong here, as has Teemu, so we knew that we had a pretty good chance; and it’s provided a really important boost for the team.

“Gus has also had a really strong day and I think his best in a world rally car. He’s really upped his pace today and got a lot closer to the leading pack. That fifth place in Turkey was a big confidence boost for him, and I hope he can continue building on that throughout the weekend.

“But obviously it was a big disappointment about what happened to Esapekka. His pace was right there, second fastest on the first stage, but he didn’t get much of a chance to show it and unfortunately won’t restart again tomorrow.

“As for Adrien, he’s had a pretty eventful day in the WRC 2 category. Despite a couple of overshoots, almost rolling and picking a puncture through the morning stages he still held a 15 second lead coming into the midday service! Another puncture dropped him down to second place this afternoon, but with his pace and two days of rallying still to go anything can happen.”

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