M-Sport’s 2022 Rally1 car turned a wheel for the first time on Friday and will undergo initial shakedown running on Wednesday.
In a groundbreaking week for M-Sport, the Ford Fiesta Rally3 also became the first car ever to compete in the Rally3 category in Finland on Saturday.
The 2022-specification all-new hybrid machine was fired into life on Friday evening, with managing director Malcolm Wilson watching closely as his latest generation rally car was driven at the team’s Dovenby Hall premises.
Wilson is hoping the car could be on the gravel as soon as next week, providing the systems checks planned for the coming days go to plan.
“As you can imagine, it was a very exciting moment,” Wilson told DirtFish. “There is something very special when you see a new car running. I’ve seen it a few times now, but it never loses that edge of excitement.
“Before I say anymore, I want to say a big thanks to Chris [Williams, M-Sport’s head of rally engineering] here at M-Sport and, of course, all the technical side at Ford. We wanted to get the car up and running as early as possible and we’ve done that. We’ve now got time to put the car through as much testing as possible before the start of next season.
“I think we all know the Rally1 regulations are a little bit more restricted than the current World Rally Cars on cost grounds, but still, when I walked around that car on Friday and I was asking why have you done this and what’s that for? Trust me, there’s still room for real innovation and brilliance from our guys.
We’ve a long way to go with this car, but to have the wheels moving is very specialMalcolm Wilson
“As ever, I came away saying: ‘Wow, what a job they’ve done.’ Don’t get me wrong, we’ve a long way to go with this car, but to have the wheels moving is very special.”
Toyota is expected to be next up with its 2022-specification Yaris WRC. Tom Fowler has already told DirtFish he would like the car to be running before the end of March.
Hyundai Motorsport is still awaiting sign-off on its program for next season, but DirtFish understands the Alzenau-based squad is doing as much simulation development work as possible right now.
Asked how it felt to win the race to build a 2022 car, Wilson added: “It’s nice, but we’re in this to win rallies – not to win the race to build a car.”
— M-Sport (@MSportLtd) March 9, 2021