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Ford' new Fiesta ST rally car will make its biggest impact yet when a one-make series within the FIA World Rally Championship is launched next week in Spain. Rally de España (23 - 26 March) is the opening round of the Fiesta SportingTrophy International, a series for the budget-cost two-litre, two-wheel drive car that encompasses six classic rounds of the WRC.
Using rally cars developed from the highly successful Fiesta ST road car, the series will offer a self-contained championship in which competitors will follow an identical route and be a part of the main WRC event. It is geared towards young drivers wishing to progress in the WRC, but there is no age limit on competitors.
Ford TeamRS and M-Sport, the Blue Oval's centre for international rally projects, worked closely on the development of the Fiesta ST Group N showroom specification car since the launch of the road vehicle in late 2004. It is aimed at both the enthusiastic amateur competitor and rising young stars, with the emphasis on providing a reliable fun to drive rally car with a competitive edge that is cost-effective to build and economical to run.
The Fiesta ST rally car debuted in Finland last year when ex-Formula 1 star Mika Salo carried out organisers' safety car duties. Now the new championship, which is co-ordinated by M-Sport, is the peak of a structure which also includes a one-make national series in Austria, Belgium, Britain, Canary Islands, Finland, Sweden and Turkey. Nine drivers will compete in Spain in the international series from Britain, France, Italy, Finland, Luxembourg and Greece.
Jost Capito, director of Ford TeamRS, the organisation which co-ordinates the company's European motorsport programmes and performance vehicle operations, believes the Fiesta ST rally car will appeal to drivers at all levels of the sport.
"The launch of the Fiesta ST road car has given users a chance to combine the acclaimed dynamics of the hugely successful base Fiesta model with a series of performance and styling enhancements to create a car that flatters the novice and rewards the experts. M-Sport has used the Fiesta ST road car to create a rally car ideally equipped to cope with the rigours of national and international rallying," he said.
"This championship provides some of the best special stages that the WRC can offer. In providing the perfect platform for drivers wishing to sample the excitement of competition at professional level, the series is a logical career move for those wishing to progress in the WRC," he added.
M-Sport managing director Malcolm Wilson has been overwhelmed by the interest in the Fiesta ST rally car. "The brief to our engineers was to design a car that was fun to drive but with cutting edge performance while focusing on both reliability and economy," he said. "The Fiesta ST stands up to all those requirements and I believe we have created a niche in the market that has generated interest from places as far removed as New Zealand and the Canary Islands."
The Fiesta Sporting Trophy International also visits the WRC events in France, Italy, Germany, Finland and Britain.
Follow this link for more photos from the original press-release last year .