Safari Rally 2024: Will Fourmaux finally break M-Sport Ford jinx in Naivasha?

French rally driver Adrien Fourmaux. [Courtesy, Standard]

After bagging third place finish in the third leg of the World Rally Championship (WRC), the Safari Rally for three seasons, British constructors M-Sport Ford feel they have come of age to win the toughest circuit on the globe which revved off at the Kenyatta International Convention Centre in Nairobi on Thursday.

Navigated by Alexandre Coria, Adrien Fourmaux will be the M-Sport Ford marksman in the contest that will traverse rough terrains of Nakuru County in Naivasha. Other drivers on the M-Sport Ford lineup for the Safari include Jourdan Serdevidis/Frederic Miclotte and Gregoire Munster/Louis Louka.

Fourmaux comes to the championship buoyed with third place finishes in Rallye Monte- Carlo and Rally Sweden that currently places him third overall in the standings on 29 points, behind series leader Thierry Neuville (Hyundai) and Elfyn Evans (Toyota Gazoo).

Furthermore, the daredevil speedster has been buoyed with a Sh20 million deal by the giant telco Safaricom that will see him become Safaricom’s M-pesa Global International Money Transfer service ambassador.

Fourmaux says they already have a strategy for this year’s Safari Rally which should grant them at least a podium finish. Their plan will be to manage  their cars well along the stages in order to avoid the perennial troubles that have always put them out in the circuit.

Ford M-Sport service crew works on rally cars at the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) Training Institute Servicepark on June 20, 2022 ahead of WRC Safari Rally Kenya sheduled in Naivasha from June 23 - 26, 2022. [Stafford Ondego, Standard]

“We will have to be smart enough in some places, we will have to slow down just to pass some rocky places and then flat out in some sections to grab time.

“Safari Rally is such a big challenge to all the drivers, it’s a bit rough and very long, it’s special and unique from other rallies due to its provocative terrains. It’s a long rally and we always love that,” he told Standard Sports.

The 29-year old driver further explains that his pace notes for the Safari Rally are always different from other competitions for efficiency purposes.

“We have things like ‘keep left’ or ‘keep right’ just to avoid big holes or just the drop, that we don’t have in the normal rally,” he says.

Some of the challenging stages that have always been a nightmare to the M-Sport Ford team include Kedong and Sleeping Warrior which Fourmaux says they have done their homework well to tackle this year.

Fourmaux is the latest young French talent to emerge from the country’s rally development programme. His inaugural WRC Rally event was in 2019 at Rallye Monte-Carlo. To date, he has won four stages, with his first victory occurring in 2021 at Rally Kenya SS16. Additionally, he achieved a podium finish during the Rally Sweden earlier this year.

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