It’s the news rally fans up and down Britain have been waiting for: a 2017-specification Ford Fiesta WRC will be driven at speed at Rallyday on September 23.
The Castle Combe event will be the first time a 2017 World Rally Car has been driven in public anywhere in Britain.
Rallyday organiser Tom Davis is understandably delighted to be able to deliver the good news. He said: “I can’t tell you what a big deal this is; it’s massive news. We have had [telephone] call after call after call asking just one question: “Is there a ’17 car coming?”
“Well now the answer is emphatically, yes! And not just any old ’17 car, it’s the best in the world right now. It’s the car that’s leading the FIA World Rally Championship for Drivers’ and Manufacturers’. It’s M-Sport’s Ford Fiesta WRC.
“What’s even better is that this car will come in the livery Ott Tänak used to win the last round of the World Rally Championship in Germany. Honestly, this thing just couldn’t get any better, faster or more exciting. I must say a big, big thank you to Andrew Wheatley, Malcolm Wilson and everybody at M-Sport for making this happen. It’s sensational.”
Having watched his World Rally Car win four of the 10 world rallies run so far this season, M-Sport managing director Malcolm Wilson OBE knows full well what all the fuss is about.
“I remember the reaction when Group B cars first came to Britain back in the Eighties,” said Wilson. “It was huge news, everybody wanted to see the likes of the [Metro] 6R4 or the Audi Quattro and it’s the same with these 2017 World Rally Cars. And it’s been the same from Sweden to South America: every country we’ve been to this year, the effect has been huge.
“And when you see the car out there, doing its thing, you can understand it. They’re so quick, so dramatic and so beautiful. I’m genuinely delighted to have this chance to bring our Fiesta WRC to Rallyday to give British fans a chance to see the car before Wales Rally GB next month.
“As for who’s going to drive it, well that’s a tough one with Ott and Elfyn [Evans] coming down. Maybe I’ll pull rank and get behind the wheel myself…”
M-Sport’s business development manager Andrew Wheatley has worked closely with Davis to deliver this multi-million-pound dream display for British rally fans.
“Rallyday fans really are genuine rally fans,” said Wheatley, “and you always get something back from them when you make the effort to go the extra mile. We’ve seen the fantastic, positive reaction when we’ve brought special drivers and cars to Rallyday before. But this year is going to be something special.
“Having Elfyn, Malcolm, Ott, the 2017 Fiesta WRC and a Fiesta R5 coming is undoubtedly M-Sport’s biggest commitment to this event and we’re delighted to be doing it this year.
“And the good news doesn’t stop there, we’ll be bringing a bit of history down the M6 with us as well… But more of that once we’ve decided how many of these fantastic cars we can fit on trailers!”
Tickets are available here, priced £18 for adults. Under-17s get in free and rally car rides are available for £25 (when purchased in advance). If you fancy starting Rallyday early, camping permits are available at Castle Combe circuit for £10 per person.
What makes the M-Sport World Rally Team Ford Fiesta WRC so special?
Engine: 1.6-litre turbo, direct injection
Gearbox: six-speed sequential with hydraulic shift
Transmission: four-wheel drive
Differentials: mechanical front/rear active centre
Brakes: 370mm/355mm (front/rear) discs four-piston calipers
Power: 380bhp at 6,000rpm
Torque: 450Nm at 5,500rpm
Top speed: 130mph
Sebastien Ogier (FRA)
Wins: Monte Carlo Rally; Rally of Portugal
Podiums: Rally Sweden (3rd); Rally Mexico (2nd); Tour of Corsica (2nd); Rally Poland (3rd); Rally Germany (3rd)
Ott Tänak (EST)
Wins: Rally Italy; Rally Germany
Podiums: Monte Carlo Rally (3rd); Rally Sweden (2nd); Rally Argentina (3rd)
Elfyn Evans (GBR)
Podiums: Rally Argentina (2nd); Rally Finland (2nd)
FIA World Rally Championship Drivers’ standings (after 10/13 rounds):
1 Sebastien Ogier (Ford Fiesta WRC) 177pts
2 Thierry Neuville (Hyundai) 160
3 Ott Tänak (Ford Fiesta WRC) 144
4 Jari-Matti Latvala (Toyota) 123
5 Dani Sordo (Hyundai) 89
6 Elfyn Evans (Ford Fiesta WRC) 87
FIA World Rally Championship Manufacturers’ standings (after 10/13 rounds):
1 M-Sport World Rally Team 325pts
2 Hyundai Motorsport 261
3 Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT 213
4 Citroen Total Abu Dhabi WRT 163