Production Ford Fiesta powers rally cars
Posted on 13 September 2011
- Best-selling Fiesta road car provides core vehicle for all Ford rally activities
- Career path from grass roots to World Rally Championship structured around Fiesta
Ford’s globally successful Fiesta road car is proving to be the ideal base for rally cars designed to propel talented drivers up the ladder of opportunity, from grass roots rallying to the highest international level of the sport.
Top of the ladder is the new-for-2011 Fiesta RS World Rally Car, with which Ford’s official team competes in the tough FIA World Rally Championship. This four-wheel-drive challenger is driven in the WRC by Mikko Hirvonen and Jari-Matti Latvala and was developed by M-Sport, the Blue Oval’s long-term British-based partner, with support from Ford of Europe.
The Fiesta RS WRC, which can be seen on Ford’s Frankfurt Motor Show stand, is powered by a 1.6-litre turbocharged direct injection engine, based on the same advanced EcoBoost technology that powers Ford’s latest production cars.
Acknowledged as one the toughest forms of motorsport for production-based cars, the WRC challenges competitors to do battle for world honour in such diverse and demanding conditions as the barren, frozen countryside of Sweden and sweltering temperatures and boulder-strewn roads of Greece.
One rung down from the Fiesta RS WRC in Ford’s rallying hierarchy is the Fiesta Regional Rally Car. This shares the same Ford global performance DNA as its high-flying sibling, but is fitted with a different engine restrictor and aerodynamic modifications to meet technical regulations for series such as the FIA European Rally Championship.
The car is built to comply with FIA regional rally regulations and its versatility allows it to compete both in national championships, in its RRC guise, and also in the world championship in WRC guise. A kit of parts is available to enable conversion from RRC to WRC specification in just six hours.
Situated at the middle of Ford’s rally ladder is the Fiesta S2000, from which the Fiesta RS WRC was originally developed. After winning the famous Monte Carlo Rally on its debut in 2010, the S2000 has become a front-runner in the FIA S-WRC, a support series to the WRC.
Occupying the fourth rung is the Fiesta R2 rally car, which forms the basis of the FIA WRC Academy, the sport’s new Ford-supported training programme for young drivers within the world championship.
The 1.6-litre R2 rally car also forms the competition vehicle for the Fiesta Sporting Trophy, a series of national one-make championships held in eight countries worldwide.
At the base of Ford’s ladder of opportunity is the Fiesta MS1, designed to offer an entry level rally car for novice drivers and based on the standard 1.6-litre Fiesta Zetec S road car. It offers competitors the option to upgrade step by step from an MS1 to an R2 car as resources allow.
Ford of Europe motorsport chief Gerard Quinn said the Fiesta road car offered a perfect base from which to construct the ladder.
“The core attributes of the production Ford Fiesta provide so much of what is required from a successful rally car,” he said. “Its strength is an obvious benefit in such a demanding discipline, both mechanically and in the high-level of safety that is provided to the occupants.
“Its short wheelbase guarantees agility in all five rally car variants and Fiesta’s popularity can be seen on rally stages across the globe. This season the Fiesta RS WRC has established itself at the highest level of the sport, adding to the success of the S2000 and R2 models. I’m confident the recently launched RRC and MS1 versions will become equally successful,” added Quinn.
All five Fiesta rally models have been developed at M-Sport, which has partnered Ford in the WRC since 1997. Managing director Malcolm Wilson is a former British champion with Ford and spent several years as the company’s chief test driver to develop new rally cars.
“As a youngster, with hopes of becoming a professional rally driver, it was exactly this type of ladder of opportunity that encouraged me to drive Ford cars in the early days of my career,” he said.
“I made the progression from grass roots to being a world championship driver with Ford and with a structured path now in place, there has never been a better opportunity for rising stars to reach the top level of the sport with Ford,” added Wilson.
Fiesta in rallycross
The Ford Fiesta has also made its mark in rallycross during the 2011 motorsport season.
The Fiesta claimed a podium clean sweep in the prestigious X Games Rallycross event in the United States. X Games also marked the final round of the US-based Global Rallycross Championship and Tanner Foust clinched the overall title, as well as the individual disciplines in SuperRally and Rallycross.
Marcus Grönholm, who led Ford to back-to-back manufacturers’ titles in the FIA World Rally Championship in 2006 and 2007, finished second in GRC to Foust. Grönholm was also at the wheel of a Fiesta.
Foust held third in this season’s FIA European Rallycross Championship after seven of the 10 rounds, having won in Portugal and Sweden.
Fiesta stars in Ken Block’s Gymkhana FOUR
A specially adapted Ford Fiesta was the star of the latest version of Ken Block’s smash hit Gymkhana series of video films.
The four-wheel drive Fiesta H.F.H.V., a unique car built by Block’s Monster World Rally Team, generates 600bhp and races from 0-60 in just 1.9sec.