Ford has shelved plans to give the all-new Fiesta RS WRC its debut on the Arctic Lapland Rally this weekend following a heavy accident during testing in Sweden.
Mikko Hirvonen and Jari-Matti Latvala were set to spend a day each at the wheel of the car on the two-day event as part of the final test programme for the new car, but that plan has now been dropped after Latvala was involved in a high-speed accident on the second day of a test being run over the weekend.
Latvala and co-driver Miikka Anttila were uninjured in the 150kph crash but the car, which was to be used in the Arctic Rally, will need extensive repair work before testing can continue.
As that work will mean the Swedish test can't be completed in time to then take part in the weekend's rally, Ford has withdrawn from the event and will revise its testing programme ahead of the opening round of the WRC season.
"We will repair the damage to the car before continuing our testing in Sweden later this week," team boss Malcolm Wilson said. "We're confident we can complete all our scheduled test work this week, but unfortunately we need to sacrifice our appearance at the Arctic Lapland Rally to do that.
"I'm sorry for all the fans there who were looking forward to seeing Mikko and Jari-Matti in action in the Fiesta RS WRC, but completing our work in Sweden is the best option to ensure our preparations are completed for Rally Sweden."
Latvala explained the accident happened over a sixth gear crest but said the fact he walked away unhurt was a sign of the strength of the new car.
"It was my error," he admitted. "I tried to use the snow banks to slow the car, but it rolled in the road before vaulting the snow banks and hitting some trees. The Fiesta RS WRC stood up to the impact remarkably well and Miikka and I escaped unhurt. The fact that the team can repair it and we can continue to test this week shows just how strong it is."