When Toyota technical director Tom Fowler tipped M-Sport Ford to be fastest out of the blocks with its all-new 2022-specification Rally1 car, there was always a suspicion of the Finland-based Brit trying to blindside the service park.
Turns out he’s not. M-Sport managing director Malcolm Wilson is aiming to have the next generation up and running before the end of the month.
“This is something I’m super excited about,” the Cumbrian told DirtFish.
“Watching the new car coming together, seeing the work that’s going into it is just fantastic. I hope we can have the car running by the end of February, that’s the target for us. I saw what Tom said, maybe we are just slightly ahead…
“There’s always something incredible about this time when you’re designing a new car – the way Chris [Williams, M-Sport’s head of rally engineering] and his team go about everything is fantastic.
“Put it this way, there’s still scope for these guys to make a difference within the regulations. We’ve got 40 years’ experience of working in rallying and 25 years’ experience of designing world rally-winning cars – we’re putting all of that knowledge and understanding into this car and it shows.”
Fowler said his own 2022 Yaris WRC would be seen in the first quarter of this season.
While the teams have designed all-new spaceframe, tubular chassis for the WRC’s next generation and the FIA is delivering a universal, next-level safety cell aimed at making Rally1 cars the safest in the history of the sport, the final piece of the jigsaw is Compact Dynamics, which is expected to deliver hybrid hardware to the teams by the start of next week.
So, this time next week, all the component parts should be in place to take the WRC forward to the future.
But what will M-Sport’s car be called?
DirtFish still believes that 2022 Rally1 car will be based on Ford’s Puma.
Wilson wouldn’t be drawn on it, beyond saying: “You’ll know more when we start testing – I’d be surprised if the car looked too different to the one we’re using now…”