M-Sport boss Malcolm Wilson says the upcoming Kennards Hire Rally Australia (17 - 20 November) marks "the end of an era" as the current evolution of the Ford Fiesta RS bows out of top line competition.
The successor to Ford's Focus RS made its debut at the 2011 Rally Sweden and has since racked-up 531 starts on 78 different WRC events. It claimed victory on its debut and the car has secured 50 top-three finishes and three clean-sweeps of the podium.
And as an all-new 2017-spec Fiesta World Rally Car nears completion, ready to make its debut at January's Rallye Monte-Carlo, Wilson reflected on the final top-level outing for the current model.
“It’s the end of an era, and Rally Australia provides a fantastic setting for us to say goodbye to the current Fiesta RS WRC – a car which has given us much success over the years," he said.
“After claiming a podium lockout on its competitive debut, the Fiesta became the car of choice for many and the fact that it has been entered more than 500 times at WRC level proves the extent of its popularity and performance.
“Fifty podiums and three clean-sweeps of the podium is a fantastic achievement and something that we are all very proud of. It would be great to wave goodbye to such a successful car with a strong result next week.”
M-Sport’s hopes in Australia ride with drivers Mads Østberg and Éric Camilli. Østberg is a key figure in the Fiesta’s success and has recorded nine podiums in the car, most recently earlier this year in Mexico. The Norwegian has only contested the championship's Australian fixture twice before and secured his best result of fifth when piloting the Fiesta in 2013.
Contesting the event for the first time, Camilli is hoping to close a year of development with a trouble-free run through all of the stages.