2017 FIESTA TAKES TO THE GRAVEL
Following 12 months of intense development, the first prototype of the 2017 EcoBoost-powered Ford Fiesta RS WRC took to the stages last month.
Embarking on a relentless test schedule that will see the car take to roads the length and breadth of Europe, a series of comprehensive preliminary tests have been completed at M-Sport’s private test facility in Cumbria.
As is the case with all cars designed and developed at Dovenby Hall, Managing Director Malcolm Wilson OBE was keen to get behind the wheel.
Checking the progress and development of the team’s latest creation, Wilson was back in the driving seat before the team travelled to Rally Finland; after which experienced driver Martin Prokop took over the testing duties.
The new-for-2017 regulations mark a new era for the FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) and not since the Fiesta RS WRC was first launched in 2011 has the championship seen such a revolution in terms of technical design and innovation.
The latest creations are expected to be 55mm wider than the current world rally cars, 10kgs lighter and with more aerodynamic freedoms that hark back to the iconic Group B cars of the 1980s.
The first prototype focuses on mechanical components – running the suspension, drivetrain, transmission and engine – with aero updates to follow in due course.
Having undergone a complete redesign, the 2017 Fiesta has been created from a clean sheet of paper and no stone has been left unturned as M-Sport’s team of skilled designers and engineers assessed every aspect of the new regulations to gain optimum performance in all areas.
A 36mm restrictor is expected to deliver 380bhp – that’s 60hp more than the current cars – and a central differential provides improved handling.
After producing the record-breaking Ford Focus RS RX in just six months – which went on to secure three podiums and two wins for the Hoonigan Racing Division in just six races – M-Sport’s close collaboration with Ford Performance continues and all WRC design resources are now fully focused on the 2017 Fiesta.
With the project on schedule, initial tests have been encouraging and the team’s hopes of producing another winning car alongside their valued partners are high.
M-Sport Managing Director, Malcolm Wilson OBE, said: “Whenever a new car gets its first run out in the forest there is always an air of excitement, and rightly so. Time and again we have proven that we have the engineering expertise to produce winning cars, and the initial findings suggest that this one will be no different.
“This is only the first prototype but the speed really is incredible. We’re still fine-tuning the aero-package with our colleagues at Ford, but we have been able to run all of the mechanical components on the current bodyshell and the first tests have only strengthened my confidence in our ability to produce a winning car.”