M-Sport Ford WRC Team Principal Richard Millener says that this weekend’s Safari Rally Kenya is a step into the unknown for their drivers and the team. Millener explains that due to the COVID 19 pandemic and the logistical challenges as a result of that the team has scaled back their presence this weekend.
Safari Rally Kenya really is a step into an unknown for our drivers and most of the team, but challenges are something we relish at M-Sport and we can’t wait to get started. Of course, the COVID-19 pandemic has created several logistical issues and has accounted for our slightly reduced presence in Kenya, but we’re competing in a world championship and it’s great for the WRC that we’re returning to Africa after such a long gap.
“We head to Kenya with plenty of reason to be optimistic. Gus has shown the progress we expected of him, while Adrien continues to underline his potential. We know it won’t be an easy rally by any means, but we’ve put in place a firm plan for them to follow. Getting to the finish and benefitting from that experience is part of it, but we’re also expecting to see some strong stage times during the event.
Adrien Fourmaux is looking forward to this weekend’s rally saying:
It’s really good that the WRC is going back to Kenya. It will be a really big challenge and we know from the past how difficult this rally was. Okay, it’s a shorter event this time compared to the old WRC event, but it will still be hard and completely different to what we know.
“I’m a bit too young to remember watching the Safari Rally when it used to be in the WRC, but I have seen some videos and it was amazing to see the Ford Focus with the extra bars at the front. We will not have this protection but I am sure we will find some giraffes and elephants on the stages so it will be really interesting and for sure we will have to be careful!
“I have watched the video of the organiser. In some places we will have to almost stop because it’s really rough, but this is when we have to be smart enough to say, ‘okay this section we have to be slow but this section we can be fast’.
“It’s really nice to know the last driver to win the Safari in the WRC was Colin McRae in the M-Sport Focus. It will be really difficult to do exactly the same result although you never know because a lot of things can happen. But I want to stay quite humble. It’s an honour for me to do this rally and I can only say thanks to M-Sport for this opportunity. To go to Kenya is really good but with the WRC car it’s a dream and I can’t wait discover not only the rally but the humanity and the landscape.
Gus Greensmith is also excited about Safari Rally Kenya this weekend and spoke about when Colin McRae won here for M-Sport:
I was five when Colin McRae won the Safari for M-Sport and didn’t know what rallying was. But it’s obviously a cool thing he did and we’ve got the Safari Rally Focus that Colin won in in the main hall at M-Sport so every time I’m at M-Sport I pass the car. Clearly, it’s a very fond memory for Malcolm and the team and it would be great to get another good result.
“I’ve asked Malcolm plenty of questions about the Safari, but it was obviously so different back then with open roads and very long stages. It’s a very different challenge now and kind of new for the people of who have done it before. It’s definitely a trip into the unknown for me – I’ve never even been to Africa – but I’ve been watching the organiser videos for quite a while. Usually, I watch them religiously to become more familiar with the stages because it helps me to write better pacenotes, but because the roads are so undefined it’s been a different preparation for me. But I’m sure we’ll find more definition when we get there.
“From what I’ve seen I don’t think I can compare the Safari Rally to anything else I’ve done. But I have shown I can drive to the conditions when I need to, like when I won WRC2 on Monte-Carlo and in Turkey.
“We’ve certainly made some very good steps forward since Croatia. Chris is back in car on this rally and it will be helpful to have his knowledge. My aim for the remainder of the year is to be consistently in the top five and keep my pace going forward. There’s no reason why that can’t be possible.