The current WRC car generation is known for being the most developed rally car generation in terms of aerodynamics. Most of the current official drivers started to drive these cars during the development tests developed in 2016, and have been driving them for the last four years and a half. The number of new drivers who have had the chance to join the restricted list of WRC drivers since then is really limited. And most of them with a very limited chance of testing the car before getting behind the wheel. How was this experience, and how a driver can prepare himself to get the most of such a developed aero package, are some of the questions we have done to one of the last drivers to join this privileged list, Adrien Fourmaux.
A.Fourmaux/R.Jamoul, Ford Fiesta R5, Rallye Monte-Carlo 2019, 10th
Adrien Fourmaux, you have a wide experience in driving the Ford Fiesta Rally2 in the last seasons, with some great results. Last year, M-Sport offered you the chance of driving the Fiesta WRC in competition in the Rally Legend, and this year you have driven it in some events of the WRC Championship (Croatia, Portugal, Kenya and now in Ypres). What was your first impression when you first drove the Ford Fiesta WRC?
The stability of the car is increased at higher speeds and the more with the more speed you gain. In the slower stages, the car is similar to the Rally2 car, but the difference becomes great as you get up to speed. Incredible feeling at the beginning that you can always go harder into the corner.
A.Fourmaux/R.Jamoul, Ford Fiesta WRC, Rally Ypres 2021 pre-event test – picture by MSport Ford World Rally Team
Where is for you the biggest difference: the grip at the front, at the rear, the cornering ability….?
It’s a total package, the car has more grip overall and especially from this rear stability. During jumps, the car takes off less than the R5’s so we can afford to take more speed due to this aero which keeps the car on the ground.
To get full advantage of the aero of a WRC, it has always been said that you need a lot of confidence… and a bit of madness. Do you agree with that combination?
You need confidence but in all rally cars, you need it because the speed is so high. However, the stability that the aero gives you also gives you confidence.
A.Fourmaux/R.Jamoul, Ford Fiesta WRC, Rally Portugal 2021, 6th – picture by Nacho Mateo – Motoresport.cat
Oliver Solberg declared to DirtFish after his debut at the wheel of the Hyundai i20 Coupé WRC in Finland this year, that the hardest thing to get used to for him was the aero. Was it the same for you?
No, I didn’t get the feeling that it was hard to handle, it did take me a day of testing to understand its capabilities, but the central differential was more complicated for me to understand.
How could you, as a driver, get prepared to manage the new aero? Did you receive support or suggestions from more experienced drivers, or from your engineers?
You can’t prepare for the aero, you have to drive it for miles and build up a crescendo of intensity so you don’t get caught out. I got some advice from my MSport engineers because you can change the balance of the aero depending on the difference in ground clearance between the front and the rear (rake), but I had to examine the car carefully to understand where the downforce was coming from.
A.Fourmaux/R.Jamoul, Ford Fiesta WRC, Croatia Rally 2021, 5th – picture by MSport Ford World Rally Team
You have already obtained very good results with the car, such as setting twice the second-fastest time in the same stage in Croatia (Mali Lipovec – Grdanjci), in a long stage with a good variety of fast and slow sections. This confirms that you have integrated the car’s handling very well. How well do you think you are now able to take advantage of the aero?
Using the WRC is not just about the aero but I can be happy that I am regularly setting times close to the best and understanding how the aero and center differential work.
We’re sure that Ypres will confirm this progress. Thank you Adrien for kindly accepting to answering our questions and satisfying our curiosity.
A.Fourmaux/R.Jamoul, Ford Fiesta WRC, Rally Safari Kenya 2021, 5th – picture by MSport Ford World Rally Team
Next year’s car generation, with simplified aero and no center differential, will simplify the adaptation process to a WRC car for new drivers. This will surely facilitate the introduction of new drivers to the official teams, which in the end is good for our sport.