(WRC.com, M-Sport, 14/6/2013) THE leader of Ford’s effort in the FIA World Rally Championship, Malcolm Wilson, has unveiled the new Fiesta R5 rally car that he believes points the way to the championship’s future.
The Fiesta R5 built at Wilson’s British-based M-Sport WRC team headquarters is the first car to be built to the R5 specifications, with more expected to follow from other manufacturers.
The car, which costs 180,000 Euros, is expected to be homologated by the FIA on 1 July and will make its WRC competitive debut in Neste Oil Rally Finland in August with Elfyn Evans at the wheel.
The turbocharged 1600cc four-wheel drive Fiesta R5 will compete in the WRC 2 category, alongside Super 2000 and Regional Rally Car (RRC) machinery.
Before Finland, Thierry Neuville will demonstrate the R5 as a course car at the European championship Ypres Rally in July.
“I really believe it’s a big step for rallying for the future,” Wilson told wrc.com.
“I’m so excited about the car and also about the concept going forward. It’s going to provide a lot of performance for a very realistic cost.
“With the proper driver this car is going to surprise a lot of people. It’s going to be quicker everywhere than a Super 2000 car and a lot of places it will be quicker than a regional car.
“Put it this way, I don’t believe there’s ever been a way for a young driver to drive a competitive car for so little money.
“I think that the R5 is a very strong car and has got the potential to become the top model in the future.”
Further R5 models are expected to be homologated this year, with Skoda, Peugeot and Citroen all currently developing cars.
A statement from M-Sport said:
Based on the new 1.6-litre EcoBoost-engined Ford Fiesta ST road car – Ford’s fastest-ever production Fiesta which went on sale earlier this year – the Fiesta R5 forms the latest step on Ford and M-Sport’s “Ladder of Opportunity”.
The Fiesta R5 is a complete transition from M-Sport’s previous projects. Ninety per cent of the car has been designed and manufactured from scratch, making it the first in a new generation of rally cars.
Providing the perfect transition from 2WD to 4WD competition, the Fiesta R5 is the ideal model for those keen to progress. Designed with ease of use in mind, the model has been developed so that it can be easily managed and maintained by teams around the world.
Q&A with Malcolm Wilson
Q: Tell us about the development of the Fiesta R5.
MW: “It was a follow on from Super 2000 – and the fact that prices in that class had gradually crept up. The FIA looked at everything to come up with a sensible formula with a proper, controlled, price. That’s where the R5 concept originated.
“To keep the costs down, the car uses a lot of standard production car components. So, not only did we have to design and develop a new four-wheel drive car, but we also had to work with Ford to identify and evaluate components from other Ford models that would do the job and cope with the rally environment. The radiator on the R5 is from a Ford Edge sold in America, for instance. From beginning to end the process has taken us 12 months.”
Q: How does the price compare to the WRC and RRC versions?
MW: “The base price is 180,000 Euros, which is less than half the price of a WRC car. It’s also much cheaper than an RRC car, which is almost identical to WRC specification. The running costs will be a lot less than any similar four-wheel drive car. There are extras packages available, but they are not things that that are going to increase the car’s performance. They are more about personal choice. The FIA has frozen the price until the end of 2015, so customers know exactly what the costs are going to be.”
Q: How does it drive?
MW: “I was amazed. I was impressed when I drove one of the really early ones and I have to say the step up in performance from that one to the finished article is incredible. It’s fun to drive and an easy car to drive. Most people who have gone into a WRC Fiesta can go quickly early on and I think we’ve achieved the same characteristic with this car.”
Q: What has the reaction been from your customers?
MW: “We had a customer day last week and the people who paid deposits had a chance to drive it. They all went away very, very happy. So far we have taken 18 deposits and we plan to have a number of those cars ready for Rally Finland.”