Eligible for the WRC-2 category in the World Rally Championship, the Fiesta R5 is a completely new model from M-Sport.
Based on the 1.6 turbo Ford Fiesta ST road car, the R5 features a newly developed roll cage, fuel tank and electronics, and a revised aero package to comply with R5 regulations. The car also features a new transmission system and a new engine – with a 32mm restrictor – developed by M-Sport.
Following a series of gravel tests in the UK, M-Sport test drivers Wilson and Elfyn Evans were in Europe last week, testing on tarmac roads in northern Spain from Tuesday to Friday and the rough gravel of Fontjoncouse in southern France on Sunday and Monday.
“It was really encouraging,” Wilson told wrc.com. “In fact the car surprised me, because it was our first proper tarmac test and we managed nearly 1,000km over four days. We used a really good mix of roads, including a section of a Catalunya rally stage. We got some useful gravel mileage in too, but because most of our running has been on that surface in the UK, it was the tarmac test that was the really important one.”
The M-Sport Fiesta is expected to be the first R5 car to be homologated and Wilson believes the specification will prove popular, and successful, in WRC-2.
“R5 regulations dictate that a lot of parts are carried across from production cars - like the turbo, for instance,” he explained. “But the great thing is that the parts that make the car really strong, like the suspension and transmission, are bespoke - and that’s where this car wins.
“In effect, you’re getting something that’s good value for money but that’s also very strong and will be able to compete against RRC and Super 2000s. And on most events, and on most surfaces, I think it’ll probably be quicker.”
The R5 is expected to make its World Championship debut on Rally Finland in August, but it could make some guest appearances before then.
“As soon as it’s homologated, the plan is to go to some rallies," said WIlson. "But before then there’s a chance of doing some events as a zero car, to get some more miles in a competitive environment.”
“It was really encouraging. In fact the car surprised me"