Ahead of its 2017 competition debut, the next-generation Fiesta WRC has undertaken a series of comprehensive preliminary tests at M-Sport’s private test facility in Cumbria.
The new-for-2017 regulations mark a new era for the 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. A 36mm restrictor is expected to increase engine output to 380bhp, around 60hp more than the current cars, whilst 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.
“Whenever a new car gets its first run out in the forest there is always an air of excitement, and rightly so,” explained M-Sport managing director, Malcolm Wilson OBE. “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.”