Fiesta enters 2017 WRC ring
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The new Ford Fiesta WRC developed by British motorsport specialist M-Sport has followed the Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC as second new car revealed for the 2017 FIA World Rally Championship.
The new WRC contender is based on the new-for-2017 road-going Fiesta revealed in Europe recently and will go on sale next year. The rally car is designed to next-generation FIA technical regulations, which introduce more powerful engines, greater aerodynamic freedom and the re-introduction of electronically controlled active centre differentials. All WRC cars use 1.6-litre direct injection turbocharged engines and M-Sport has announced power outputs from the Ford EcoBoost unit that exactly duplicate those of Hyundai with 380-horsepower and 450Nm of torque.
The increase in power for 2017 comes mainly from the increased size of the turbo air inlet restrictor to 36mm (up from 33mm). The Ford is 30mm longer than the Hyundai at 4130mm and has been widened to the new maximum dimension of 1875mm but the wheelbase at 2493mm is 77mm shorter than the Hyundai.
The other significant difference from Hyundai's launch is that there is no sponsor livery on the new Fiesta and the full 2017 driver line-up remains unconfirmed although team boss Malcolm Wilson has confirmed one team member will be four-time world champion Sebastien Ogier.
Ogier tested the new Fiesta shortly after the final round of the 2016 season.
M-Sport says the new Fiesta WRC has been designed from a completely clean-sheet of paper with fully CFD designed aerodynamics that feature a front and rear splitter, dive planes and multi-element rear wing.
In other changes a newly designed six-speed sequential gearbox with hydraulic shift runs alongside a multi-disc clutch to the new active centre differential which offers enhanced control and performance.
Improved safety also forms a key part of the 2017 regulation changes and the Fiesta WRC has a new T45 steel roll cage welded to the chassis with structural door sill reinforcements.
The amount of enhanced energy-absorbing foam used in the cockpit has also been significantly increased from 60 litres to a minimum of 95 litres. The crew's Sparco seats are cocooned by this foam and energy management figures have increased by as much as 20 per cent.
"Entering a new era in the FIA World Rally Championship, there is a real sense of excitement throughout the team, and rightly so as I believe we have created something extremely special in the new Ford Fiesta WRC," said Wilson.
"Having driven the car, I can honestly say that it is one of the most impressive we have ever produced. It's exciting to drive, it sounds fantastic and it looks absolutely sensational."
The third of the 2017 WRC cars expected to be revealed is the Toyota Yaris, which was scheduled to launch last night.