Ford's new challenger for the 2011 FIA World Rally Championship is the new Fiesta RS World Rally Car, which made its global debut at the Paris Motor Show today.
The Fiesta RS WRC will make its competition debut in Rally Sweden, the opening round of the 2011 FIA World Rally Championship, on 10-13 February 2011.
For Paris, the preview model has been finished in a striking blue and grey livery, developed by Ford of Europe's design team. The new World Rally Car, derived from the best-selling Fiesta road car, is being developed by Ford of Europe and its rally partner M-Sport.
Using the Ford Fiesta S2000 rally car as a base (which won the legendary Monte Carlo Rally on its debut last January as well as other international and national rallies in 2010), Ford of Europe's design team and M-Sport worked to fine-tune the bodywork and aerodynamic package to create an exciting replacement for the outgoing Focus RS WRC. Although detailed changes may be made as the Fiesta RS WRC car continues its development, the final car will share the eye-catching appearance. The interior will also be instantly recognizable as a Fiesta RS WRC rally car as it contains a number of production parts.
The Fiesta RS WRC will be part of a new era for the world championship. To comply with new regulations, the Fiesta rally car will boast four-wheel drive transmission and a 1.6-liter turbocharged engine, based on the all-new Ford EcoBoost engine family.
The new EcoBoost engine features direct injection and turbocharging to maximize performance and efficiency. "The introduction of Ford's latest engine technology to its rally program reinforces further our commitment to motorsport. It also demonstrates our continued support for affordable competition by using an off-the-shelf production engine for our WRC powerplant," said Mike Norton, Ford of Europe's Motorsport Manager.
Specialist engineers from Ford and M-Sport have cooperated in the development of this engine, with highly-respected French tuner Pipo Moteur bringing additional expertise.
The Fiesta RS WRC appearance at the Paris Motor Show precedes the car's first major test program with the full 2011 engine specification on gravel roads in Spain next week. The car has already completed almost 3000km of testing in Britain and France, powered initially by the current WRC engine and more recently by a prototype 1.6-liter Ford EcoBoost turbo unit.
The test will provide the first opportunity for BP Ford Abu Dhabi World Rally Team drivers Mikko Hirvonen and Jarmo Lehtinen and team-mates Jari-Matti Latvala and Miikka Anttila to drive the new Fiesta RS WRC.
Gerard Quinn, Ford of Europe's Motorsport chief, has overseen the Ford development program throughout 2010 and says: "We're delighted to preview the Ford Fiesta RS WRC in such a prominent Motor Show as Paris. There are significant visual differences from the Fiesta S2000 base car as well as major changes under the skin. The biggest, of course, is the EcoBoost engine - the original version of which was developed by Ford's Powertrain Engineering team."
M-Sport managing director and BP Ford Abu Dhabi World Rally Team director Malcolm Wilson is equally enthusiastic about the new car. "This is a thrilling time for everyone involved in the car's development", Wilson affirmed. "Countless hours have gone into the Fiesta RS WRC to reach this point, and for the car to be unveiled in public for the first time is a proud moment for us. We are right on track with our development and the team is delighted with testing to date. Another major step forward will be taken at the start of October when the car tests in full 2011 technical specification for the first time.
"We will have a test car running under the guidance of our technical director, Christian Loriaux. Mikko and Jari-Matti lead our challenge with the new car in the 2011 WRC, so their feedback from the testing is critical, and will provide valuable data for our engineering team to work with," added Wilson.
The Fiesta RS WRC will replace the record-breaking Focus RS WRC as Ford's championship challenger. The Focus RS WRC won back-to-back manufacturers' world titles in 2006 and 2007, and its victory in New Zealand in May was the Blue Oval's 75th at WRC level, making Ford the most successful manufacturer in world championship history.
American sports icon Ken Block has campaigned a Fiesta rally car in the Rally America championship this season, and the car won gold and silver medals in both the Rally Car and Super Rally events at the X Games event in Los Angeles in July.
"The Ford Fiesta has already established itself as a serious contender in a range of global motorsport activities, and we can't wait to debut our official car in the hugely demanding World Rally Championship next year," said Gerard Quinn.
"We've worked hard to ensure the car is undoubtedly related to the best-selling Fiesta road car which itself is a global success story. Ford's design and product development teams have worked closely and efficiently with our partners at M-Sport whose enormous expertize is key to delivering not just a highly competitive rally car, but also a car that is both stylish and recognizably a Ford Fiesta." he added.