In a world first, M-Sport Poland’s Ford Fiesta Rally3 will make its competitive debut on this weekend’s SM O.K. Auto-Ralli in Finland.
This Krakow-built car represents more than just the next step for M-Sport’s Polish operation; it’s a car with global significance – a car which denotes the vital middle tier of the FIA’s rally pyramid. The world will be keeping an eye on Ken Torn’s car 17 in Kouvola this weekend.
The man who’s been driving not just the development of the Fiesta Rally3 but the whole concept of a €100,000 four-wheel drive car is Maciej Woda. And nobody’s more excited about Saturday than him.
“I’m really excited to see what the car can do,” he told DirtFish.
We're all very excited by this car. It’s something we’ve felt has been needed in the sport for so longMaciej Woda
“We know what we expect, we know what our simulations have said and where the car should be. But now we want to see it on the stages and see how it compares.”
Compares to what though? M-Sport – this time the Polish division – has, once again, beaten everybody to market with a brand new category car. There’s not going to be another Rally3 manufacturered for quite a while.
“Of course there is some cars for us to compare ourselves to,” said Woda.
“So many people are talking about Rally3 being the new Group N. It’s the Group N cars where we will compare. There are 10 or so Group N cars out there in Finland this week, that’s where we’ll be looking.”
The car is concluding its homologation process, with final sign-off expected before the end of the month, but the latest Finnish Rally Championship is an event which permits non-homologated cars.
“It’s the perfect place for us to come to compete,” said Woda. “We were looking at this event or going to [the asphalt Rally Il] Ciocco in Italy to run it for the first time.
“It’s very important that we get the car out on Tarmac quickly – straight after this, we’d planned to do Le Touquet in France, but that’s been postponed now. We will find a Tarmac rally, so we can show the car’s speed on asphalt as well as gravel.
“But for now we are focused on the snow in Finland.”
The 1.5-liter car which develops more than 200bhp and knocks on the door of 300Nm torque has completed more than 3,100 miles of testing, but Saturday is its biggest test.
“No pressure then,” smiled Woda. “We’re all very excited by this car.
“It’s something we’ve felt has been needed in the sport for so long and to be able to deliver it is a very, very big moment for the company.”
And, with a season of ERC competition aboard a Fiesta Rally3 ahead of him, it’s a big moment for Torn too.
“Ken’s done a lot of testing with us and he’s the obvious choice to put in the car for its competitive debut,” Woda added.