M-Sport is reaping the advantages of utilising Ford Performance’s simulator in America with the work carried out translating into advancements at World Rally Championship events this year.

Adrien Fourmaux highlighted that recent simulator sessions in the US played a role in assisting enhance the M-Sport Ford Puma Rally1’s performance on Croatia’s asphalt stages last weekend.

While Ford is not presently operating as a fully-fledged factory team in the WRC, the blue oval lends support to M-Sport’s WRC programme, which includes access to the Ford Performance Technical Centre’s simulator in America, to help facilitate the development of the Puma.

Fourmaux says sessions in the simulator have helped transform the Puma’s performance on bitumen considerably since January’s Monte Carlo debut where he finished fifth.

In Croatia, M-Sport debuted a new rear wing which was the first visible performance enhancement on the car this year. Fourmaux secured two stage triumphs last week including an impressive Power Stage victory that helped him secure 13 championship points.

“I’m really happy because we have come really far with the car since Monte Carlo,” Fourmaux told Autosport/Motorsport.com.

“The car wasn’t good at all on tarmac, we were struggling so much but we have done a lot of development in the simulator and on the test.

M-Sport set to debut WRC Puma upgrade in Croatia

“We were searching a little bit at the beginning of the rally but after Friday afternoon where I did the second fastest time, I found a really good set up.

“We have made a big step but there are things we still need to improve and we are working on it to gain some time. It is really positive and we are much closer. We were warring with Ott all the weekend.

“It [the simulator] is working and I’m really pleased we have done a good job with the car, and it has been working on this rally.

“We are using it as a tool to make the car faster and it is working.”

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M-Sport team principal Richard Millener says the simulator access is a valuable resource to the British squad in its combat with full manufacturer-backed operations Toyota and Hyundai.

“Obviously there is only a certain amount of things you can do with it but it allows us to be a little bit more efficient before we go testing as testing regulations are quite restricted,” Millener told Autosport/Motorsport.com.

“It also allows the drivers to have a bit more feedback with the engineers and the design team and keep them thinking all the time about what we can do.

“It gives you a little bit more freedom to come up with some out of the box ideas that we would never try in reality and see what happens.

“It is great that they support us with those things but there are limitations as rallying is very different to circuit racing which is what the simulators are designed for at the moment.

“It is part of the help that Ford give us that not everybody knows about and appreciates the value that is to us as a company.”