WRC A FULL 2015
NEW FORD FIESTA RS WRC DEBUTS AT NEW RALLY DE PORTUGAL.
15 May 2015
M-Sport’s EcoBoost-powered Ford Fiesta RS WRC has undergone the biggest evolution since its creation and is ready to make its debut on the stages of the FIA World Rally Championship (WRC).
M-Sport’s team of world-class technicians have built five new cars at the company’s Dovenby Hall base in Cumbria – ready to take on the world in the hands of Elfyn Evans, Ott Tänak, Martin Prokop, Lorenzo Bertelli and Robert Kubica.
Development on the new-evolution Fiesta RS WRC began in earnest last year with a vigorous testing regime covering more than 5,000 kilometres – eclipsing the test mileage of any other M-Sport developed car prior to its debut.
The 2015 edition may look much the same from the outside, but it’s a different story under the bonnet. Key to the new development is a completely new engine which delivers more power as well as a substantial increase in torque.
For the first time, the entire engine block was designed in-house by M-Sport’s team of designers and engineers. With technical support from Ford, it has been machined from a solid block of aluminium and exemplifies M-Sport’s engineering expertise which continues to grow from strength to strength.
In addition to the exciting new engine, the car has undergone a full redesign under the bonnet with further developments to the cooling package, transmission, electronics, wiring harness and differentials.
The team are relishing the opportunity to put the car through its biggest test yet – next week’s Rally de Portugal – and what better way to debut a new car than at a new event?
For the first time since 2001, Rally de Portugal is returning to the north of the country; and tens of thousands of passionate rally fans are expected to support their favourite drivers on what are set to be some of the most popular stages of the year.
New for all competitors, the route offers a huge challenge and M-Sport World Rally Team’s Evans and Tänak will be hoping the new-evolution Fiesta RS WRC sees them well placed for the trials ahead.
Evans and co-driver Daniel Barritt have enjoyed a strong start to the season – holding fourth place in the standings and securing their maiden podium at last month’s Rally Argentina. The young Welshman has something of a score to settle at Rally de Portugal, but a change of location combined with a new car could provide him with an opportunity to do just that.
Keen to develop his skills further, Evans will be looking to secure another solid result as he prepares to fight for the podium more regularly in the second half of the season.
By comparison, Tänak’s start to the season has been marred by misfortune but he and co-driver Raigo Mõlder have good form when it comes to the Portuguese fixture.
The pairing were running as high as second overall at the event last year and the move north should not daunt the duo who finished a strong second at last year’s Fafe Rally Sprint – missing out on victory by a mere 0.5 seconds.
Tänak has been particularly excited about the arrival of the new Fiesta RS WRC and will be keen for a turn of fortune next week.
M-Sport Managing Director, Malcolm Wilson OBE, said:
“This is the biggest upgrade the Fiesta RS WRC has ever seen and it’s something that we are all immensely proud of. The car may look much the same from the outside, but there has been a complete redesign under the bonnet – centred on a completely new engine designed and developed in-house by M-Sport.
“Our engineering capabilities are going from strength to strength, and this new engine is proof of that. It’s a big step forward for the team, and brings us one step closer to our goals of having both Elfyn [Evans] and Ott [Tänak] challenging for the podium positions more regularly in the second half of the season.
“Once again I must also praise the efforts of our fantastic team. Never before have we had to build so many new cars for a single event and there has been a tremendous amount of hard work behind the scenes. Their dedication and commitment is second to none.”
M-Sport Head of Engineering, Chris Williams, said:
“Work on the new car – and specifically the engine – actually started as early as 2012 but our initial developments have since evolved to produce what is a big step forward in terms of both drivability and performance.
“The Fiesta chassis has always provided a very ‘driver-friendly’ car and we have been able to improve that further. In addition to this, the new engine provides a substantial increase in bottom-end torque which assists performance in lower-gear corners.”
Elfyn Evans said:
“I’ve been pretty pleased with our pace in Portugal over the last couple of years, but for various reasons we’ve not been able to translate that into points. I’m ready to put that right this year, and a new location with the added excitement of a new car could provide us with the perfect opportunity to do just that.
“The team have put a lot of effort into this car and it’s certainly a step forward. The testing has all been really positive and we’ve covered a lot of miles which we’ll be hoping pays off. I feel really comfortable in the car. We’ve done a lot of work on the set-up and that should give us a good base going into the first event.
“In terms of the rally itself, I think we’re in for another really interesting one. The roads in the north seem to be a lot softer and there’s potential for a big difference in conditions from one pass to the next.
“In reality, I don’t think anyone really knows what to expect, and that’s what makes it so exciting. It will certainly be interesting to see how everyone copes with the challenges of a completely new rally and we’ll be hoping the new car gives us a boost towards making the next step.”
Ott Tänak said:
“I’m looking forward to this event. I really like Portugal and I especially liked the Fafe Rally Sprint so I’m approaching next week in a positive and confident mood. It’s a clean sheet as a new rally with a new car gives us the opportunity to put our bad luck behind us.
“The stages in the north are perhaps a little more technical and twisty, but in general I would say that the nature is quite similar to those in the Algarve with a lot of crests and blind corners.
“Although we’ll be concentrating on our own event and on doing the best job we can, I enjoy fast stages like Fafe. If the confidence is there and the fans are with us, we’ll be able to push the limits that little bit more.
“Going to a region I enjoy with a brand new car is a real confidence boost. The car has changed in many areas and the team have all worked really hard. It’s a step forward in many ways, but the biggest improvement for me is in the handling. It was good before, but now it really gives you that extra boost of confidence.”
Contesting the WRC 2 category, M-Sport will prepare the Ford Fiesta RRC of Abdulaziz Al-Kuwari and the Ford Fiesta R5 of Sander Pärn.
Fresh from his victory at last month’s Rally Argentina, Al-Kuwari will be keen for another strong result.
Starting his WRC 2 campaign in Portugal, Pärn is embarking on a seven-event prize drive after winning last year’s inaugural Drive DMACK Fiesta Trophy. The young Estonian has shown great promise and will be looking to start the next phase of his career with a solid result.
M-Sport will also aid the running of Robert Kubica’s Fiesta RS WRC in conjunction with the newly restructured RK World Rally Team.
AHEAD OF RALLY DE PORTUGAL
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