M-Sport Ford World Rally Team will revisit an old friend next week as the FIA World Rally Championship returns to Turkey – the home of Ford commercials including the Transit. The team secured one-two finishes at the event in 2006 and 2009, and are determined to deliver more Turkish delight this year.
Based around the holiday resort of Marmaris, this year’s event offers a completely new challenge with speed tests never before used on the world stage. The team have no previous data from these stages, and the crews have to make their pacenotes from scratch – making this the ultimate test on a completely level playing field.
In preparation for the challenges ahead, the team travelled to Greece where they completed a four-day test on roads similar to those anticipated next week. The team also have the advantage of being able to choose between chassis, and all three EcoBoost-powered Ford Fiesta WRCs will carry the original aero package.
The upgrades carried on the leading Fiesta in Finland and Germany provided increased performance at high speed, but in Turkey – where the average speeds will be considerably lower – the team have the luxury of opting for proven durability.
But it’s not just the main class that M-Sport Ford fans should keep an eye on next week. Of the 14 local crews in attendance, 12 will compete behind the wheel of the Fiesta and the Blue Oval accounts for a mammoth 67 percent of the overall entry.
The three Fiesta WRCs are joined by the older-specification Ford Fiesta RS WRC of Yazeed Al-Rajhi, and 10 EcoBoost-powered Ford Fiesta R5s will also tackle the loose gravel stages – eight of which as part of the WRC 2 category.
An impressive 21 one-litre EcoBoost Ford Fiesta R2s have also been entered – most of which will go head-to-head for one of the biggest prizes in motorsport as Rally Turkey hosts the final round of the FIA Junior World Rally Championship where nine drivers have a mathematical chance of clinching the title.
Team Principal, Malcolm Wilson OBE, said:
“It’s been a long time since we last welcomed a brand-new event to the championship, and I’m sure we’re all in for an exciting weekend of rallying. While we have been to Turkey before, we’ve not visited this region and absolutely everything will be new to both the team and the crews.
“We have no previous data from the stages and the crews will have to make pacenotes from scratch. With the other events becoming more and more familiar, this is something completely different and it will be interesting to see who masters the challenge.
“We’re hoping to do just that and both Sébastien and Elfyn had two days of testing in Greece to best prepare for the challenges ahead. Sébastien may be hampered by his early running order, but both could be in with a chance of challenging for the top results.
“Teemu had to go without a test on this occasion, but he should not be discounted for a strong result. He is such a quick learner and this is a new event which provides something of a level playing field, so it will be interesting to see what he can do.”