Martins Sesks’ top-flight World Rally Championship debut at Rally Poland is “one of the strongest in a while” according to M-Sport team principal Richard Millener.

Last year’s European Rally Championship runner-up has stepped up to rallying’s top Rally1 class with M-Sport as part of two-round deal, supported by the WRC, that also includes his home WRC round in Latvia next month.

Sesks headed to Poland with having conducted only one test in the Ford Puma but has lit up the stages to end Friday in fifth only 7.7s adrift of the rally lead.

To add further gloss to his performance, Sesks is running a non-hybrid powered version of the car that is 130 horsepower down on his Rally1 rivals.

The 24-year-old stunned himself by clocking a second fastest stage time in stage two just 0.3s behind the benchmark set by rally leader Hyundai’s Andreas Mikkelsen. It prompted a stage end reaction that has already gone viral on social media.

While Sesks was assisted by a strong road position, the Latvian consistently posted top five stage times.

When asked if he could believe what he had achieved, he said: “I don’t have anything to answer to this because for me, one of the things that would be fine for me for Saturday was not to be the last Rally1 car, so I have someone in front to see the lines. We have done that job.

“Let’s not talk about the podium just yet. It is all about finishing the rally and to learn. It is incredible.

“Everything is difficult in the car and that is what makes it easy because it is all difficult and you have to concentrate on everything.”

Martins Sesks, M-Sport Ford World Rally Team

Photo by: McKlein / Motorsport Images

M-Sport team principal Millener labelled the performance as one the best first days for a driver in the WRC top-flight.

“It is definitely up there, I would say it is one of the strongest first day debuts we have seen in a while,” said Millener.

“Now the key bit is keeping his cool for the rest of the rally.

“If you look at his strengths, they are these type of roads, and he is not a slow driver anyway, and he had good road position.

“But on the other hand, he had never driven the car for more than a day and he is straight into a World Rally Championship and against the best there and doing what he has done on every stage is pretty fun to watch. It’s pretty impressive.”

Sesks ended Friday 0.2s behind M-Sport regular Adrien Fourmaux having been the top Ford runner until the day’s final stage.

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