Gus Greensmith will make his competitive debut behind the wheel of a new-generation world rally car this weekend when he drives an M-Sport Ford Fiesta WRC on Rally Portugal

Partnered by Elliott Edmondson, Greensmith set a very impressive time of 3mins 03.8sec on today’s Shakedown stage, which was ninth equal fastest with Elfyn Evans/Scott Martin (Ford Fiesta WRC) and 0.7 seconds faster than Sébastien Ogier/Julien Ingrassia (Citroen C3 WRC). Thierry Neuville/Nicolas Gilsoul (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC) were quickest with a 3mins 02.1secs.

“I’ve spent the last ten years of my life preparing for this moment, and I can tell you that I feel ready to climb this mountain,” says Greensmith. “But it’s not just about me – so many people have worked hard to get me to this point and it’s been a real collective effort. I’ll take the time to thank each and every one of them, but for now there is only one job I need to focus on.

“I don’t have any expectations other than to enjoy myself. I’m one of the very few to have been given an opportunity to drive one of these cars – so whatever happens, I will drive with a smile on my face, and hopefully we can make next weekend something positive for everyone involved.

“It’s also quite special for me to be making my debut in Portugal. I really love this country and the area around Porto – it really does feel like home when I walk out of the airport. Of course the stages are amazing to drive, but it’s the country and the Portuguese way of life that makes me feel so at ease.”

Rally Portugal gets underway tonight with a ceremonial start in the riverfront city of Coimbra. The action begins tomorrow, with three stages in the Arganil region, each run twice, followed by a super special at the Lousada rallycross circuit. Saturday covers over half of the competitive stage distance for the entire rally, with three challenging stages – Vieira do Minho (12.75 miles), Cabeceiras de Basto (13.8 miles) and Amarante (23.36 miles), which will all be run twice. Sunday’s final leg includes the signature Fafe stage with its famous jump.

Gus Greensmith wears a Stilo WRC DES 8860 helmet.

Gus Greensmith, Rally Portugal, FIA World Rally Championship, M-Sport, Ford Fiesta WRC