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I have a 40-year relationship with the Blue Oval, starting with my first paid photographic job – promo shots for a Sydney Ford Dealer. Over the years Ford rally cars have featured in my professional work and rallying. I have been one of the lucky ones. The coveted left had seat in a BDA Escort is something very special and 10,500 RPM in 5th gear in the forest is simply spine tingling. The Ford Escort BDA is an example of a car that completely said “rallying”. Fiat, Datsun and Toyota all attempted to copy the formula. Ford and rallying are synonymous – ask most rally fanatics and most have a favourite Ford rally car. Ford versus Datsun in the late 70s was very real, spurred on by sometimes bitter rivalry between Ford and Holden in touring car racing. From iconic models like the Lotus Cortina to the Escort Twin Cam and the most iconic Escort BDA, to later models like Sierras, Focus and now Fiesta.

Ford hero Greg Carr in action in the 1980 Castrol International Rally.

Ford have not officially participated in local rallying since the demise of the Ford factory Escort team run by Colin Bond in the early 80s. A small foray with a pair of Ford Focus’ under the Pirtek banner in 2006 and 2007 is the only time that they’ve appeared in any ‘official’ form since. Ford’s participation is characterised by private teams entering cars in major events. British Rally Champion, Malcolm Wilson, now team principal of M-Sport, was brought out to Australia to drive for Mike Bell’s team in the 2GO Rally in 1981. Wilson went close to winning the event in the Bell Escort, only to shear off a stub axle on the final day, robbing him of victory. His 13 minute 13 second elapsed time has never been beaten on the iconic 27-kilometre Watagan Road stage.

M-Sport's Malcolm Wilson (left) drove Mike Bell's BDA Escort in Australia in 1981.

Many still talk about his dominance of that rally – reminiscent of Ari Vatanen’s 1980 Castrol International Rally dominance. The Escorts were the cars to beat and in many classic rallies, still are. The heritage runs deep with many. BDG Escorts regularly feature in local events, with one of the world’s fastest Escort drivers, Frank Kelly, recently competing in Rally SA. M-Sport have lead the Ford challenge in recent years with development work filtering down into Focus RS models, with WRC Revoknuckle front differentials and body styling enhancing the road cars. Wilson’s M-Sport team return to Australia for Kennards Hire Rally Australia with the multiple World Rally Champion, Sebastien Ogier, at the wheel of the 2017 WRC Fiesta. Will the championship closing round be Ogier’s event? There is no doubt in thousands of Ford supporters’ minds that Ogier can take the win. He has won before and knows the roads well.

The Focus RS is the most recent iconic Ford model.

Blue Oval fans are not starved for cars to watch at Kennards Hire Rally Australia. Ott Tanak is expected to feature in the results, and at the time of writing has a mathematical chance to win the Drivers’ championship should Ogier fail to finish. Fords feature in many regional championships with the Fiesta R5, R2 and R1 models and M-Sport continue to support up-and-coming drivers with support for the 2017 Junior World Rally Championship. Ford supporters get a great chance to take a mate to Kennards Hire Rally Australia with a special Mates Rates offer for tickets. So, dust of your Focus, Fiesta, or even your Escort or Cortina, and come and support your favourite Ford drivers at Kennards Hire Rally Australia. The M-Sport team will really enjoy your support! And don’t forget to come down to the Service Park and see the M-Sport team in action! PURCHASE YOUR RALLY AUSTRALIA TICKETS HERE.
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