The R5 offensive continues – M-Sport presents the new Fiesta R5

Ford Fiesta R5 rally car made it’s first proper public appearance earlier this week at M-Sport headquarters. Although similar in many aspects to current Fiesta based rally cars, the R5 version is, in fact, quite a special beast, according to M-Sport. They claim the car was built (almost) from scratch – as such, it marks a new step in M-Sport’s preparation and development work.

Officially, first WRC outing for the new R5 contender will be at the Neste Rally Finland in the hands of Elfyn Evans, but rally fans will be able to see it in action even sooner – Thierry Neuville will use Fiesta R5 in Geko Ypres Rally, later this month. M-Sport says Fiesta R5 is already very popular, with 18 deposits placed there is little doubt M-Sport shop is quite busy these days.

Interestingly, Fiesta R5 will be joined by another R5 machine, Peugeot 208 T16 in Belgium, with Kris Meeke behind the wheel of another VIP car.

Only thing left to do about the new R5 class is the more detailed explaination of it’s intended purpose – where does it slot in, which class (if any) it replaces, what is the price and expected competitiveness level… because every time you read about R5 cars, there are fans asking about it’s place in current crop of classes and categories. In all honesty, all those Rs are a bit confusing! Compared to S2000 cars, R5 machines should offer similar level of performance but from a 1.6 litre turbocharged engine, and the running costs are said to be lower than those of a S2000 car. Essentially, that means R5s will replace the normally aspirated S2000 machines. Peugeot Sport also abandoned S2000 specifications with the new 208 T16, built around the R5 regulations.

By the way, as irrelevant as it may be, I really like the choice of colours and livery scheme on the presentation car. Gray, black and red – I’m sold.

M-Sport’s official presentation follows below.

M-Sport’s Ford Fiesta R5 revealed

M-Sport’s long-awaited Ford Fiesta R5 was given its first public outing at a drive day at the firm’s Northern England base this week. Given the opportunity to test drive M-Sport’s latest rally car, a handful of Europe’s motorsport journalists took to the wheel of the Fiesta R5 at the team’s Cumbrian headquarters.

Sporting a new livery designed for the launch, as well as the car’s first public outing on the international stage*, the Fiesta R5 looked the part in an M-Sport designed grey and red vinyl wrap. The new livery emphasises the new and exciting R5 venture whilst highlighting the dominant silhouette of the Fiesta as a front-runner at almost all levels of rallying around the globe.

Based on the new 1.6-litre EcoBoost-engined Ford Fiesta ST road car – Ford’s fastest-ever production Fiesta which went on sale earlier this year – the Fiesta R5 forms the latest step on Ford and M-Sport’s ‘Ladder of Opportunity’.

As the first R5 specification car to be homologated and ‘ready to rally’, the all-new Fiesta rally car is expected to make its first appearance in the FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) at Neste Oil Rally Finland in August – most notably as the 2012 FIA WRC Academy Cup winner, Elfyn Evans, returns to the WRC 2 category in a Qatar M-Sport World Rally Team version.

The Fiesta R5 is a complete transition from M-Sport’s previous projects. Ninety per cent of the car has been designed and manufactured from scratch, making it the first in a new generation of rally cars.

Providing the perfect transition from 2WD to 4WD competition, the Fiesta R5 is the ideal model for those keen to progress. Designed with ease of use in mind, the model has been developed so that it can be easily managed and maintained by teams around the world. As such – and following this week’s successful public launch – a number of Fiesta R5s are expected to appear on the Rally Finland entry list. However, with 18 deposits already placed, it is likely that the car’s competitive debut will take place outside of the WRC as soon as the first car rolls out of the workshop towards the end of July.

*But rally fans need not wait quite that long to see the Fiesta R5 in action. Prior to its official, competitive outing, M-Sport can reveal that the all-new Fiesta will take to the legendary stages of the Geko Ypres Rally (27 – 29 June). Piloted by Qatar World Rally Team’s Thierry Neuville and Nicolas Gilsoul, the pairing will compete as a VIP car – their extensive knowledge of the Belgian event allowing the team to showcase the competitiveness of its latest model in the very best light.

M-Sport Managing Director, Malcolm Wilson OBE, said:

[quote]“It’s been a long time since I’ve been as excited about a project as I am about the [Ford] Fiesta R5. A great amount of time and effort has gone into this car and our designers have done an incredible amount of research and development to get the car just right. Looking at the testing so far, it certainly looks as though that hard work will pay off. With 18 deposits already placed, it is fantastic to see that the rallying world has such faith in M-Sport to produce a highly competitive and reliable car.

“The first ‘official’ public outing for the car will be with Thierry [Neuville] and Nicolas [Gilsoul] at [Geko Rally] Ypres. This is an incredibly important event for us. We see a huge market for the [Fiesta] R5 as part of the European Rally Championship and Thierry – as the local star – is the perfect candidate to show exactly what the car is capable of.”