20 Jan 10
Ford works team drivers Mikko Hirvonen and Khalid Al Qassimi are getting in some pre-WRC season practise this week, driving M-Sport's new Fiesta S2000 as it makes simultaneous competitive debuts at rallies in Qatar and Monte Carlo, three weeks before the opening round of the WRC in Sweden.
Hirvonen's attempt at the non-championship asphalt-based Rallye Monte Carlo began today, while on 21 January Al Qassimi will take to the driver's seat of another Fiesta S2000 for its gravel debut at the Qatar International Rally.
Also driving a Fiesta S2000 on the Qatar International Rally is former P-WRC champion Nasser Al -Attiyah, who last week drove a Volkswagen Touareg to second place in the 2010 Dakar cross country rally.
The rallies are the first opportunity for Ford's top level WRC drivers to compete in the new Fiesta - a version of which will replace the current Focus World Rally Car in 2011.
Ford's manufacturers' championship rivals Citroen, meanwhile, last week completed the first significant test of the vehicle which will replace its C4 World Rally Car.
The new car, based on Citroen's DS3, was driven for five days on gravel roads in France. Test and development driver Philippe Bugalski was behind the wheel for the first day, with Sebastien Loeb driving on the second and third days and Dani Sordo on the final two.