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Exciting new-generation rally cars from M-Sport and Peugeot will appear on the upcoming FIA European Rally Championship round in Belgium.
The cars, which conform to the ground-breaking R5 regulations and represent the future of regional rallying, won’t compete for times on the Geko Ypres Rally due to their homologation status, but will run through all 20 stages that make up round six of the ERC from 27-29 June prior to the course-opening zero car.
Leading Belgian driver Thierry Neuville will pilot M-Sport’s Ford Fiesta R5, while Kris Meeke will be behind the wheel of the Peugeot Sport 208 T16. Neuville is a podium finisher in the World Rally Championship with the M-Sport team. Meeke won the 2009 Ypres Rally in a Peugeot 207 S2000.
The R5 category has been developed by motorsport’s world governing body, the FIA, as a faster and more affordable replacement for the hugely successful Super 2000 class, which currently headlines the ERC. Costs are controlled through the requirement for manufacturers to use long-lasting standard components, the financial outlay for which is capped. The increase in performance is achieved through technological advances and the use of a turbocharged engine.
François Ribeiro, Motorsport Development Director of Eurosport Events, the ERC promoter, said: “The R5 category is an important ingredient of the ERC’s future with M-Sport, Peugeot and Citroën building cars to the new regulations and with several other car makes planning to follow their lead. These manufacturers are being attracted to the R5 formula and are already experiencing incredible demand from the market. The FIA is determined to keep R5 costs under control, which will be the key to the success of this new category. It’s going to be a significant moment for the sport of rallying when these cars come through the stages in Ypres. We are glad M-Sport and Peugeot Sport accepted our invitation to run Fiesta R5 and 208 T16 together. Let’s see how they perform and look in action. As the European championship promoter, it will be the ideal opportunity for Eurosport Events to showcase the ERC’s immediate future, right here, right now.”
Malcolm Wilson OBE, Managing Director, M-Sport, said: “By running the car in Ypres we get more real-time testing in a proper environment and having Thierry in the car means another driver with more experience. But we also want to put on a very strong performance and showcase what the car can do to potential customers on what is a very important rally. There’s no reason why Thierry can’t do that. The rally organisers and Eurosport Events have bent over backwards to help get us there so it’s good for them this car will be there with a local hero in Thierry driving. The R5 is ideal for the ERC and Ypres is the perfect place to start what we hope will be a very successful project.”
Bruno Famin, Director, Peugeot Sport, said: “Nothing can replace actually ‘competing’, but the chief aim of our run in Ypres will be to take our development programme forward and collect more data. Then we will be able to start to think about the final specification of the 208 T16, which is due to be homologated at the end of the year. Thanks to the feedback we received from Craig Breen and Paolo Andreucci, we intend to make a number of modifications, which Kris Meeke and our technical squad will follow in Ypres. The objective, of course, will be to get as many kilometres on the car’s clock as possible in ‘real’ rally conditions. The ERC’s promoter and the organisers of the Ypres Rally have kindly provided us with a great opportunity.”
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