(M-Sport / Ford Racing Press Release)
M-Sport World Rally Team’s Ford Fiesta RS WRCs will be sporting a new-look next week when Mikko Hirvonen and Elfyn Evans power through the high-speed forests of the 64th Neste Oil Rally Finland. As rallying’s spiritual home, there is perhaps no batter backdrop on which to debut the Fiesta’s long-awaited facelift and the M-Sport crews will be looking to celebrate the reveal with a similarly celebratory performance.
Based on the road-going Ford Fiesta ST – Ford’s fastest-ever production Fiesta which combines contemporary style with the Blue Oval’s state-of-the-art EcoBoost technology – the new-look world rally car highlights the valued technical support which M-Sport continues to receive from the Ford Motor Company; and what better way to commemorate that support than with a successful outing on one of the FIA World Rally Championship’s (WRC) most anticipated and prestigious events.
Success on the fast-paced stages will be hard-fought. The route is blisteringly quick and precision driving and pacenote delivery is essential.
The high-speed straights are interspersed with series of jumps and a good set-up with a car that handles well can be a driver’s most treasured possession. Blind crests conceal tricky bends and split second decisions can make all the difference as crews look to position their cars correctly before take-off and landing.
The competitors must also get to grips with Michelin’s new compound – the LTX Force which will make its first competitive appearance next week.
This is an event which truly favours the brave, but make a mistake in Finland and the fast-paced gravel tracks will make you work harder than ever to win back the time.
The complex natrue of this classic event means that every driver dreams of adding a Finland victory to their repertoire; something Hirvonen and co-driver Jarmo Lehtinen achieved with Ford and M-Sport in 2009.
The team's resident Finns have an unrivalled understanding of their home event, Hirvonen contesting the fixture of 12 previous occasions and Lehtinen an impressive 16. Based in Hirvonen's hometown of Jvyaskyla, the M-Sport man will have local support on his side and he'll be looking to translate that into a positive result in pursuit of the top positions.
In the sister new-look Fiesta, Evans also knows how sweet a Finnish victory can be having won the Finnish round of the FIA WRC Academy in his championship year. But the youngster won’t be looking to the top-step of the podium again just yet.
In what is a development year for the Welshman, he and co-driver Daniel Barritt will focus on learning all that they can. With limited knowledge of the event in four-wheel-drive machinery, the 25-year-old will be determined to make it through all 26 stages unscathed and discovering how to best apply the power and performance of his Fiesta RS WRC.
Having attended Hirvonen’s pre-event test, the youngster gained a thorough understanding of the specialist route from a Finnish master. Now, he must work to translate his findings and hone his developing skills on the stages.