Britain’s Gus Greensmith makes his World Rally Car debut in a Ford Fiesta at this week’s Vodafone Rally de Portugal. Here the WRC 2 Pro leader tells wrc.com about his step up.
“Stepping out of M-Sport’s stunning Fiesta WRC after my first run down the test stage in Portugal, my head hurt a little bit. Things happen so quickly, it requires every ounce of brain power to compute what’s going on.
I remembered that much from my first test last November. It felt like it was from another world.
But by mid-morning last week, things were changing. I was feeling more and more comfortable. By 11am, I was already at the point I’d hoped to be by the end of the day. I was pushing the limits and then making small adjustments to clean up my driving to do more work in the afternoon.
When you’ve been driving an R5 car, you get into quite a physical style of driving. To get the most out of any R5 car, you have to work it and make it do what you want it to do.
With a World Rally Car, it takes time to understand the car’s there to do some of that work for you. Try and drive it like an R5 car, try and hustle it and it doesn’t respond so well. You have to drive it straighter, smoother. It’s much less dependent on physical effort and input. You have to change the way you think about driving.
The sheer speed is something I came to terms with relatively quickly. With the aero and the differentials working with you, the car inspires confidence and gives incredible feedback. The speed becomes quite normal.
I spent the afternoon of the test working through the full range of diff options. The team and I had a good idea of what I would be looking for, but it was useful to go through everything and try all sorts of set-ups.
Elfyn [Evans] and Teemu [Suninen] tested in the same place for the previous three days, so having the data from their time in the car was really useful. By the end of the day I’d driven 250km. And loved every one of them.
The Fiesta WRC is, without a shadow of doubt, the most capable car I’ve ever driven. It’s the fastest rally car ever made and to have the chance to compete in this car is something I’ve dreamed of for a very long time.
The priority is to enjoy myself, an opportunity like this may never come around again. I have no expectations or aims, only to enjoy myself.
I’ve always been a hugely competitive person who has set targets pretty much all the way through my life, but this time I’m not doing that. Too many people – myself included – have worked too hard to get into this position to waste it by dropping it in a ditch on day one.
Portugal’s a rally I really enjoy and it’s an event where I feel comfortable. It’s a shame we’ve got new stages on the first day, it would have been nice to go somewhere I’ve been before – it would have helped with the notes. But I know the roads through the weekend well enough.
The time since the test has flown by, I’ve been up at M-Sport to understand what I can do with the car and how I can work on it and I’ve been with [driver coach] Rob Wilson for the day. In between, I’ve been watching the stage videos the organisers have sent us none stop.
Now? I can’t wait to get going.”
Pictures by MondegoSport