Frenchman Eric Camilli will drive M-Sport’s new WRC 2-specification Ford Fiesta R5 in public for the first time as a course opening car at the Renties Ypres Rally (27 - 29 June).
While Camilli hasn’t competed at the Belgian event before, he is one of the most experienced R5 drivers around and debuted Volkswagen’s Polo GTI R5, along with Petter Solberg, at last year’s Rally RACC Catalunya - Rally de España.
“Eric’s the obvious one for us,” said team principal Rich Millener. “He’s done a lot of development work with us and we’re sure he’ll do a good job, even though we’re only running as zero car.”
The latest Fiesta to come out of M-Sport’s Dovenby Hall headquarters follows the British firm’s original R5 car which launched in 2013. More than 300 examples of the world’s first R5 car have since been sold.
Homologation of the new Fiesta R5 is set for July 1, with a maiden WRC appearance scheduled for Neste Rally Finland (1 - 4 August) in the hands of Gus Greensmith.
“We’ve already taken a lot of orders for the car. It’ll be good to get it out in Ypres, it’s the biggest asphalt event outside the WRC in central Europe. It’s a big market and, of course, it’s where we used the original Fiesta R5 (also as a zero car) for the first time in 2013,” added Millener.
Camilli said: “I’m really excited to be driving the all-new Ford Fiesta R5 at Rally Ypres. I can remember Thierry Neuville driving the original car there in 2013, so it’s really cool that I get to do the same exactly six years later with the new and improved car.
“I was involved in the testing and development of this new car, and I have to say the guys at M Sport have done a fantastic job. As soon as you get behind the wheel you can feel the improvements and the designers and engineers really have made gains in every area.”
In addition to his M-Sport duties, Camilli also tested Citroën’s DS 3 WRC for the first time recently. He took part in the French manufacturer’s gravel development test.