After months of speculation that the British squad would switch to a Puma after campaigning a Fiesta since 2011, the wraps were taken off a prototype version of the car at Goodwood Festival of Speed.
The car will be demonstrated on Goodwood’s famous hillclimb by WRC regular Adrien Fourmaux and test driver Matthew Wilson over the next four days before being used as a development car ahead of the 2022 season.
The WRC’s exciting new hybrid era will combine the current 1.6-litre turbocharged engine with a 100kW electric motor and battery in top tier cars.
The battery will store energy gained from braking to provide a performance boost and will also be rejuvenated at sustainable plug-in charging stations in the service park.
Earlier this year Hyundai Motorsport and Toyota Gazoo Racing joined M-Sport Ford in embracing the hybrid era by pledging their futures to the production-car based series for three years from 2022 to 2024.
M-Sport managing director Malcolm Wilson said the new era of WRC cars marked one of the biggest technological advancements in WRC history.
“The introduction of the hybrid means that the cars will be more powerful than ever whilst also directly reflecting the powertrains within their road going counterparts,” he enthused.
“The switch to the Puma is very exciting with the name already having rally heritage, the car looks fantastic and I cannot wait to see it at the start line of the famous Monte-Carlo Rally in early 2022.
“I and the whole of M-Sport look forward to continuing the very successful partnership with Ford to deliver results and keep Ford at the forefront during this new and very exciting era.”
Ford Performance global director Mark Rushbrook, who will also attend Goodwood, said Ford was 100 per cent committed to an electrified future. The company announced earlier this year that its entire European passenger vehicle range will be all-electric by 2030.
“The white heat of competition has been responsible for many of the innovations that appear in our road cars today,” Rushbrook added. “The M-Sport Ford Puma Rally1 will put hybrid power to the ultimate test, and prove that the technology is capable of delivering thrilling performance.”
In addition to hybrid power, from next season Rally1 competitors will use a 100 per cent fossil-free hydrocarbon-based fuel provided by P1 Racing Fuels, blending synthetic and bio-degradable elements.