Until now, there has been a considerable jump in both cost and performance between R3 rally machinery, which is 2WD, and the 4WD R5 class in both national and international rallying. With the arrival of the FIA’s new class structure, where WRC becomes Rally1, R5 becomes Rally2 etc, R3 is intended to be a cost-effective steppingstone from 2WD to 4WD competition. The first of the new generation of Rally3 cars has now been officially unveiled, M-Sport’s Fiesta Rally3, developed and built at the company’s facility in Krakow, Poland.
The car will be available for €99,999 (US$119,000) excluding VAT and registration costs, a considerable reduction on the capped price of an R5 (now Rally4) car which starts at around €180,000 (US$214,000). Rally3 machinery will retain a far greater proportion of production parts than Rally4, while the power output is c.215bhp rather than the 275bhp+ of Rally4.
Initially, M-Sport was set to use the same 999cc turbocharged I3 found in its Rally4 Fiesta, however, a late rule change by the FIA to allow engines up to 1,600cc saw it move to a different (stronger) 1,500cc base engine, which is mated to a five-speed sequential transmission. Power output remains the same but the larger engine provides greater reliability head room; though the shift did necessitate some redesign work.
M-Sport says it is well into testing the car on a range of surfaces at venues across Europe, and production of the first shells is underway. The company notes that this will allow customers to take delivery on the car’s homologation date, set for March 1, 2021.
Commenting on the car’s development to date, Maciej Woda, M-Sport Poland director, noted that 2020 has not been an easy time to bring a new car to market: “I am very happy with how things are progressing with the Fiesta Rally3. Every time I see the development car, I feel very proud of the entire team that is working tirelessly and has been throughout 2020 on this truly ground-breaking car. In what has been a very difficult year for everybody, the team at Krakow are excelling themselves with the Fiesta Rally3, not letting anything get in the way of design and development. I want to say a huge congratulations and thank you to everybody contributing to this project so far.
“The Fiesta Rally3 and the collective effort going into its creation embodies everything that M-Sport exists for: providing every opportunity to the next generation of drivers. The Fiesta Rally3 will by no means be an alternative to any car that is out there currently, it will be a brand-new concept serving what has been a very underserved area of rallying. It will be the perfect stepping stone for those graduating from two-wheel to four-wheel drive, allowing drivers to learn and refine the skills needed to handle four-wheel drive machinery, which is a massive step for any driver.
“Since early talks about the concept of Rally3, we have all been quite excited about the potential of this category. The cost cap was a key sticking point for us, and I feel €99,999 will be a very good price point for an entry level four-wheel drive car, especially for national and regional rally championships around the world.”