Estonian driver Ken Torn gave M-Sport’s Ford Fiesta Rally3 its competitive debut at Saturday’s SM O.K. Auto-Ralli in Finland.

M-Sport Poland managing director Maciej Woda was delighted with the car’s maiden appearance.

“We have completed more than 5000km of testing with this car,” said Woda, “so we had a good idea of how well it was working, but we didn’t know exactly where it would fit in terms of competition on a rally. Now we know.

“The objective for this car was to close the gap between two-wheel drive cars [in Rally4 and Rally5] and the step to Rally2. We’ve done this. What we have here is a really cost-effective way to go rallying in a four-wheel drive car.”

The Rally3 car sits in the midpoint of the FIA’s rally pyramid. It lies below the Fiestas driven by Teemu Suninen and Gus Greensmith in the WRC’s headline class, and the Rally2 car campaigned in WRC2 by drivers such as Adrien Fourmaux.

And it places above the Rally4 Fiesta, around which the Junior WRC is currently based, and the grass roots Rally5 car.

The Fiesta Rally3 is going through its homologation process at the moment and M-Sport is already looking at various asphalt rallies to demonstrate the car’s Tarmac ability. The first customer car will be delivered on March

“We’ve been really busy working on this car,” continued Woda, “and to see it competing for the first time is really satisfying.

“Ken was a little bit conservative with his pace with the car early on in the event, but he was very clear that he didn’t want to do anything stupid. In the last three stages we were really seeing the potential.”

The Fiesta is powered by a 1.5-litre EcoBoost engine, delivering 215bhp and 400Nm of torque through a five-speed sequential gearbox. It has a top speed of 185kph and reaches 100kph in five seconds.

Alongside Torn, former Junior WRC champion Nil Solans and WRC3 frontrunner Kajetan Kajetanowicz are among those who have been at the wheel of the new car for development.

Image: M sport