M-Sport's new Ford Fiesta S2000 will make its first appearance in the FIA World Rally Championship at Rally Sweden next weekend.
The latest rally car developed by M-Sport, in conjunction with Ford, made a hugely successful competitive debut when it recently took wins in other championships at Monte Carlo and Qatar in the hands of Ford's WRC driver Mikko Hirvonen and  former Middle East Rally Champion  Nasser Al-Attiyah respectively.
Four Fiesta S2000s will now fly the flag for M-Sport in the World Rally Championship when Rally Sweden begins next Thursday.
Bernardo Sousa and Andreas Mikkelsen will enter the opening round of the 2010 season with Fiestas prepared by M-Sport, while Martin Prokop and Janne Tuohino will be run by their own private teams.  Sousa, Prokop and Tuohino will be registered to score points in the new S-WRC category for S2000 specification cars.
All four drivers chances of mounting a strong challenge in Sweden will be boosted thanks to help from former double-world champion and ex-Ford WRC driver Marcus Grönholm.
The Finn completed 230km of testing and set-up work in the Fiesta S2000 in Kall, Sweden, to help M-Sport find the optimum settings for the car in the extreme winter conditions expected at Rally Sweden.
M-Sport will make the knowledge gleaned from the test available to its drivers in order to give them the best possible opportunity to produce a good result on the snow-bound Swedish stages.  The quartet of Fiesta drivers will have the chance to further fine-tune their preparations when they take part in their own pre-event tests.
The new S-WRC category has already proven popular among competitors, with a mix of experienced crews and exciting new talent signing up to take part in the series for 2010.
M-Sport will look to build on the momentum taken from the wins in Monte Carlo and Qatar and see the new Fiesta S2000 prove to be an equally formidable package in the S-WRC.
M-Sport Managing Director Malcolm Wilson said:
“After two incredible victories in Monte Carlo and Qatar, we are now going to another extreme of conditions at Rally Sweden.  We are confident that the car can maintain its performance and we’ve been boosted by the fact that Marcus Grönholm has been helping out with the testing; he’s come up with a really good base setting for Sweden.  The M-Sport drivers will all have access to the information and it’s all part of the service to try and give our customers the best possible support.  We’ve had a great season launch in Paris this week and the S-WRC has certainly got the potential to be a very exciting championship; there’s lots of young drivers signed up and it will really spice things up.”
Former Ford WRC driver Marcus Grönholm said:
“The Ford Fiesta was very nice to drive and I was impressed by the road-holding, it was really perfect.  The engine felt very strong and you really get the feeling that this is a proper rally car to drive.  It brings back the excitement as you have to be aggressive and drive at the correct revs.  I was impressed at how the rear holds nicely on the road and overall the whole package is very good indeed.”
Ford Fiesta S2000 driver Bernardo Sousa said:
“Although I competed in this rally in 2008, I don’t have a lot of experience of snowy conditions.  This will be a challenging rally, it’s the start of a brand new championship for everyone and I will need to see what the pace is like.  This year I have, I believe, the best car and the best team so now I need to be clever and just takes things step by step.  I’m really looking forward to this year, the championship will be very exciting and there will be lots of competition; any one of five drivers could easily win the rally in Sweden.”
Ford Fiesta S2000 driver Andreas Mikkelsen said:
“It’s a great opportunity for me to drive the new Ford Fiesta S2000 in Rally Sweden. This is a rally I really like, and I have good memories from Sweden back in 2008 when I was fifth overall in a Ford Focus RS WRC. The conditions are very similar to what we have in Norway, and we have done four winter rallies in Norway before we go to Sweden; I think myself and my co-driver Ola Floene are well prepared. With the good performance Mikko Hirvonen showed with the Fiesta S2000 in Rally Monte Carlo and with the M-Sport team behind me, my goal is to fight for the win in the S2000 class in Sweden. It would be great for me to give Ford and M-Sport a win in the world rally debut for the new Fiesta S2000.”
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