October, 29. What does that date mean to you? Anything?
If you’re a team member or fan of the M-Sport World Rally Team, it’ll mean everything. That’s the date, back in 2017, where the team achieved the unthinkable.
Ott Tänak finished sixth to secure the manufacturers’ championship, Sébastien Ogier claimed third to seal the drivers’ title and Elfyn Evans then won to claim his first ever World Rally Championship victory – all on M-Sport’s home turf: Rally GB.
Rightfully then, you have voted for it as your fourth favorite World Rally Car in DirtFish’s recent poll. Crucially, despite both Toyota’s Yaris and Hyundai’s i20 Coupe achieving more on the stages, the M-Sport machine is the highest ranked of the latest breed of WRC cars in the results.
It’s easy to see why.
Ford Fiesta WRC key stats:
|Drivers’ titles||2 (2017, 2018)|
|Manufacturers’ titles||1 (2017)|
The Fiesta is easy on the eye – suitably aggressive but not offensively so – and sounds absolutely divine. I personally remember watching all the Monte Carlo testing videos in December five years ago now – as I’m sure we all did – and constantly finding myself glued to M-Sport’s runs. There was just something about the exhaust note in particular that’s hard to put your finger on.
As Volkswagen suddenly pulled out, Ogier needed a new ride and just three days after the 2016 season concluded on Rally Australia he was testing a Yaris WRC, and another two days later he got a taste of the Fiesta at Walters Arena in Wales.
Two-and-a-half weeks later Ogier’s mind was made up. He signed for M-Sport, and on his very first start duly gave the team its first win since Jari-Matti Latvala won Rally GB 2012.
Ogier made more history by becoming the first driver to win a drivers’ title for M-Sport in 2017, and doubled up on that with an incredibly hard-fought success in 2018 before leaving for Citroën.
After claiming five victories in 2017 with Tänak and Evans as well as Ogier, and then four in 2018 all courtesy of Ogier, M-Sport’s challenge was headed up by Evans in 2019 as Tänak had moved to Toyota a year earlier.
There was of course great hype surrounding the car even before then too, as the unlikely scenario intensified of the reigning champion Ogier joining what had been the least competitive team in 2016.
The team never won again but came perilously close – particularly in Corsica where Evans led ahead of the final stage before smacking a pothole and picking up a puncture.
Coronavirus perhaps stunted the Fiesta’s progress as M-Sport simply didn’t have the same resources to develop it at the same pace as Hyundai and Toyota did over the past two seasons.
However, of all the World Rally Cars M-Sport has ever produced, it remains the most successful in terms of its championship return.
|Focus RS WRC ’99-‘02||11||0|
|Focus RS WRC ’03-‘05||5||0|
|Focus RS WRC ’06-‘09||28||2|
|Fiesta RS WRC||6||0|
M-Sport team principal Rich Millener is aware of the importance of this car to M-Sport, as proved when asked by DirtFish prior to the recent Monza Rally if he’ll miss the current car when it’s replaced by the Puma Rally1 next season.
“Yeah, I think anybody would be, it’s provided some fantastic action, especially personally in 2017 and ’18 when we won the championships,” he said.
“You know, there’s some great memories from that but I’m not one to dwell on the past too much, I enjoy looking to the future and we’ve got a really exciting set of regulations in cast to come and this year of WRC that we’re finishing off now has been great, but the cars to be honest start to look a bit dated because they’ve been around for five years.
“So I’m looking forward to that step, as much as I am looking forward to saying goodbye to a generation of cars that’s brought some great memories.”
Was the Fiesta the greatest World Rally Car M-Sport ever made? You certainly believe so. But all fans of the team surely hope that the new Rally1 era can go even better for M-Sport than the last few years have done.
Check out the rest of the confirmed results from our poll, and keep your eyes open next week for the top three reveal.
|Pos||Car||No. of votes||% of votes|
|4||Ford Fiesta WRC||293||5.0|
|5||Toyota Yaris WRC||251||4.3|
|6||Subaru Impreza S12 WRC||250||4.3|
|7||Toyota Corolla WRC||227||3.9|
|8||Peugeot 206 WRC||209||3.6|
|9||Ford Escort WRC||199||3.4|
|10||Ford Focus RS WRC ’99-‘02||182||3.1|
|11||Ford Focus RS WRC ’03-‘05||174||3.0|
|12||Peugeot 307 WRC||172||3.0|
|13||Subaru Impreza S7-S8 WRC||159||2.7|
|14||Subaru Impreza S9-S11 WRC||148||2.5|
|15||Citroën Xsara WRC||135||2.3|
|16||Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC||118||2.0|
|17||Seat Córdoba WRC||108||1.9|
|18||Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution WRC||98||1.7|
|19||Ford Focus WRC ’06-‘09||92||1.6|
|20||Škoda Fabia WRC||75||1.3|
|21||Citroën C4 WRC||60||1.0|
|22||Citroën DS3 WRC||52||0.9|
|23||Mitsubishi Lancer WRC||44||0.8|
|24||Mini John Cooper Works WRC||39||0.7|
|25||Ford Fiesta RS WRC||33||0.6|
|26=||Hyundai Accent WRC||29||0.5|
|26=||Suzuki SX4 WRC||29||0.5|
|28||Citroën C3 WRC||25||0.4|
|29||Subaru Impreza S14 WRC||21||0.4|
|30||Hyundai NG i20 WRC||7||0.1|
|31||Hyundai i20 WRC||5||0.1|