Craig Breen gave Ford's new Fiesta R2 rally car its Irish debut last weekend, when he took in the ALMC Stages Junior Rally.
The 19-year-old and co-driver Gareth Roberts finished the Junior event in second place overall, behind Marty McCormack in Citroen's much developed R2 machine, despite intermittent electrical problems on the opening loop.
Indeed once the teething problems were solved, Breen recorded a fastest time en-route
to 'silver', 54 seconds behind McCormack.
"It was a superb opportunity for me last weekend, and there was a lot to learn," Breen reflected. "We tested the car on the Friday before the event, and I think we established a good base set up for the Irish roads, and really it was all there to try on the five stage event.
"We lost a lot of time initially, and on stage two, Marty actually caught and passed us. We got to service though and couldn't find anything obvious, but checked all the connections, and after that the car didn't miss a beat.
"In the end I was really happy to get a fastest time, so early on for the car, and in the afternoon I had a chance to really experience it. I was very impressed with it, especially in the high speed corners.
"It has a longer wheelbase than the ST Fiesta, so that seems to help it, and like the ST the Reiger suspension is very good. Of course the sequential gearbox is superb, and there is more power. It's very enjoyable to drive."
The result at the weekend puts Breen back into the lead of the National Junior Rally Championship, with the next round the Cork two-day forestry and he would love to debut the new car on gravel there.
"It would be good to try and get the car for the Cork Forestry," he confirmed, "and also in time for the Fiesta International round in Catalunya."
For now however the Kel-Tech Engineering team are preparing their familiar Fiesta ST for next weekend's WRC Rally Finland, the latest round of the FST International series.
"Finland will be all new to me for sure, and I believe there will be one of the local drivers in the FST series, so he should be very rapid," Breen added. "It will be a new challenge, like Portugal was and we will be having a go. Getting points is important, but at the same time, if we think we can race we will.
"I'm looking forward to Catalunya too. It will be a different type of attack on tarmac than Irish tarmac, but I'm hoping my karting skills will come in useful there."