MOTORSPORT NEWS Rally

NEW FIESTA R5: SPECIAL INSIGHT

M-SPORT HAS TAKEN THE WRAPS OFF ITS EAGERLY-AWAITED ALL-NEW FORD FIESTA R5, WITH WHICH IT HOPES TO MAKE ITS MARK IN THE WRC 2 PRO AND WRC 2 CATEGORIES OF THE FIA WORLD RALLY CHAMPIONSHIP.

Its predecessor is M-Sport’s most successful global rally car with more than 250 in competition. The British-based company hopes the new version will be a match for Skoda’s new Fabia R5 evo which made a winning WRC debut in Portugal last weekend.

The new car’s 1.6-litre turbocharged engine delivers 290bhp with better response and drivability. Aluminium damper bodies bring a considerable weight saving while the car also boats a newly-designed Sadev five-speed sequential gearbox.

Design and development started in January 2018, with the first test taking place last December. Since then eight drivers have completed more than 30 days testing on a mix of different roads.

Twenty-eight-year-old Bernardo Fernandes, who engineered Sébastien Ogier to the WRC title in 2017, led the team, with Richard Christensen heading up the design operation.

“This was my first time heading up a project. It was a challenge but also a real privilege to be given the responsibility,” he said.

“The outgoing Ford Fiesta R5 was so successful, and is still very competitive in the right hands, but we have taken our time to revise and improve every area of the car.”

M-Sport managing director Malcolm Wilson said the new car brought performance gains in every area.

“We have quite literally travelled the world, testing on a wide range of surfaces, in varying conditions and with a whole host of drivers taking to the wheel. This car is extremely important to us, and its adaptability is vital to its success.

“We’ve always given opportunities to youngsters who show a real drive and passion for what they do. Bernardo is a prime example of this and, having driven the car myself, I can tell you that he and his team have done a fantastic job.”