The highly-anticipated Ford Fiesta S2000 rally car has been unveiled at a launch ceremony at M-Sport's Cumbrian base in the UK. The new rally car, the culmination of nine months' hard work by the design and engineering team at M-Sport, was presented by M-Sport Managing Director Malcolm Wilson. Gerard Quinn, Ford of Europe's Senior Motorsport Manager was present as a special Ford guest during the S2000 launch.
The Fiesta S2000, M-Sport and Ford's first global rally car, which will be eligible to compete in national rally championships around the world as well as the IRC and S2000 World Cup, is due for homologation in January 2010. However, it will make its public debut this weekend appearing as course car at the final round of the IRC series, the Rally of Scotland.
Invited guests were given an opportunity to get a close-up look at the exciting new car which has been designed by M-Sport's award-winning Technical Director Christian Loriaux and his team led by Chief Designer Anthony Brinkman and Test Engineer Chris Gray.
Continuing their close relationship with Ford, the team at M-Sport has worked in tandem with Ford's Motorsport Technical Manager Mike Norton and the Ford small car design team that developed the acclaimed kinetic design of the Fiesta road car, to develop a dynamic and aggressive looking rally car.
The experience gained from developing the record-breaking Ford Focus RS WRC has been used by the M-Sport team to develop the Fiesta S2000 rally car while working within the new FIA Sporting Regulations which means that this car can be used by customers at both national and international level.
The Fiesta S2000 has already completed nearly 3,000 km of testing both in the UK and Europe and that extensive testing programme will continue into the start of the next year in readiness for the car's competitive debut.
The Fiesta S2000 is the latest in a long line of rally cars produced as a result of the successful partnership between M-Sport and Ford, starting with the Escort Cosworth in the 1990s and moving on to the record breaking Ford Focus RS WRC and Ford Fiesta ST.
It follows hot on the heels of M-Sport's extremely successful two wheel drive Fiesta R2, which was launched earlier this year and has already taken class victories in rallies across Europe.
The arrival of the Fiesta S2000 means that together Ford and M-Sport offer a complete ladder of opportunity for rally competitors to graduate with Ford from national level right through to the WRC in Ford cars.
M-Sport Managing Director Malcolm Wilson said:
"Today is a very exciting day for us. This is the first global rally car for Ford and M-Sport, I really believe that we have produced a fantastic rally car and this launch is a big step to seeing it out competing in rallies. It's the first time in five years that we have been able to offer a Ford rally car that can challenge for overall victory in national championships across the world.
"It is also the culmination of a huge amount of hard work not only by Christian Loriaux and his team, but by everyone who works at M-Sport. We have worked closely with Ford on this project, their best-selling road car, the new Ford Fiesta, has been a perfect base car and its award-winning styling and kinematics together with M-Sport's expertise will surely make the Fiesta S2000 a huge global success."
M-Sport Technical Director Christian Loriaux said:
"It's a fantastic feeling today to see the car actually launched to the world after all the hard work and testing behind closed doors. Everyone at M-Sport has had to pull together in order to get the Fiesta S2000 finished in such a short period of time and it has been a great team effort to get to this point so quickly.
"The design team, led by Anthony Brinkman and Chris Gray, has worked incredibly hard and the fact that we have been able to deliver the car to schedule is down in no small part to the commitment of the entire M-Sport team to the success of the project. We have made a very promising start in testing and I am more than pleased with the performance of the car so far; it will be interesting to see how the real pace of the car compares to the competition."