The Ford Fiesta RS World Rally Car, the company's all-new challenger for the 2011 FIA World Rally Championship, successfully completed more than 2000km of testing in the last two weeks.  

The car was fitted for the first time with a prototype 1.6-litre turbocharged engine, based on the new Ford EcoBoost road vehicle power plant.  The agreement of the engine specification in March was the final major technical decision to be confirmed by the FIA, motorsport's governing body, in advance of the introduction of the WRC's new formula in 2011.

The tests marked a significant step forward in the car's development as the introduction of several key components edged the Fiesta closer to next season.

The car, derived from the best-selling Fiesta road car, is being developed by Ford of Europe and British-based rally partner M-Sport.  It is based on the Ford Fiesta S2000 rally car, built to FIA S2000 regulations and which won its debut event, the legendary Monte Carlo Rally, in January this year.

The prototype engine used in the test contained the revised turbocharger that will be mandatory from the start of next season, along with the 2011 engine cylinder block, con rods, pistons and crankshaft.  Acknowledged French tuning expert Pipo Moteur is due to finalise the new direct injection cylinder head shortly.  The chassis and transmission are also close to being tested in next season's specification.   

Testing will continue on asphalt, gravel and rough gravel surfaces in France later this month when the latest engine update will be incorporated and the 2011 electronics will be introduced.  The car is due to run in full 2011 specification for the first time in September.

Ford and M-Sport continue to work on details of the car's styling, to ensure that the rally car shares the eye-catching appearance and 'kinetic design' characteristics of Ford's latest road vehicles.   

Ford of Europe's motorsport chief Gerard Quinn is delighted with the progress of the Fiesta RS WRC's development.  "I have been particularly impressed with the great co-operation between engineers from Ford of Europe and M-Sport.  They have worked closely and efficiently to bring us to the exciting stage of development at which we are now at.  

"The team has completed a tremendous amount of work on both gravel and asphalt in the last few weeks.  Despite the delays earlier this year in the confirmation of the technical regulations for the engine, we are exactly on schedule with our development programme and that is a tribute to the efforts put in by everyone involved," he added.

M-Sport managing director and BP Ford Abu Dhabi World Rally Team director Malcolm Wilson was equally enthusiastic about progress.  "To hear the positive comments from the drivers during testing was fantastic.  All the hard work during the design and development process begins to bear fruit when the drivers get behind the wheel.

"We will continue to steadily introduce 2011 components as our testing programme goes on.  We still have much to do before the car's WRC debut in Sweden next February but I'm hugely encouraged by what we have achieved so far," added Wilson.   

Sweden's P-G Andersson, who will make his debut for the Stobart M-Sport Ford team in this week's Rally Bulgaria, completed 1100km on asphalt testing the new car, before team-mate Matthew Wilson added a further 1000km on gravel.  Malcolm Wilson, a former driver for Ford in the WRC, also took to the wheel for 70km.

"It was a great feeling to get behind the wheel of the car for so long on gravel," said Matthew Wilson.  "It was a huge boost for the whole team to drive for 1000km with no major problems and shows that we are making good progress with the car's development.  Testing will continue and I'm sure that as we rack up the kilometres, we'll learn more and more about the car."  
Ford's 2011 championship car will replace the record-breaking Focus RS World Rally Car.  Since its debut in 1999, the Focus has won 43 world rallies, with highlights in 2006 and 2007 when Ford won the manufacturers' world title.  

The Focus RS WRC has scored points on an amazing 125 consecutive world rallies, a record dating back to the start of the 2002 season.

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