Less than six months after announcing the news that it would be producing a Fiesta S2000 rally car, M-Sport - the team behind Ford's WRC programme - has completed the build of the first car and started an extensive testing programme.

The new car has been given its initial system checks close to M-Sport's Cumbrian base and will continue testing in the UK before heading to mainland Europe for asphalt and gravel tests in the coming months.

The team of designers and engineers, led by M-Sport's award-winning Technical Director Christian Loriaux, have been able to stick closely to the tight schedule laid out for the them at the start of the project allowing the maximum amount of time for testing the reliability and competitiveness of the new car between now and the end of the year.

Work has progressed so well on the first car that a second body shell is already complete and work to build a second test car should be concluded by the end of October, which will allow the team to increase the speed of the development process and allow potential customers more time to test the car.

Stobart Ford driver Matthew Wilson was at the wheel for the first shakedown and he will be among a number of drivers who will be tasked with testing the vehicle during the condensed development programme scheduled for the rest of 2009.

"I have been delighted with how the build of the new Fiesta S2000 rally car has progressed according to the schedule that we laid out at the start of this project," Loriaux said. "This is a totally new car and the entire design and engineering team here have been very focused on providing both a reliable and very competitive car for our customers.

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"A brand new rally car involves thousands of parts and making sure that they are all designed, manufactured and delivered on time is an incredible achievement and takes a lot of team work. Our production and purchasing departments have done a great job in supporting the design team and ensuring the car was completed on time."