Ford's all-new Fiesta RS World Rally Car is set to receive final clearance for its World Rally Championship debut this week when motorsport's governing body gives it the seal of approval to compete in Rally Sweden.
The FIA is ready to approve homologation of Ford's challenger for the 2011 championship after the car successfully cleared tough technical inspections to ensure it complies with the sport's new cost-effective regulations.
“We worked closely with the FIA throughout the development of the car to ensure our understanding of the regulations was aligned with that of the governing body,” said Ford of Europe's motorsport chief, Gerard Quinn.
“We expect the paperwork to be finalised this week, and everyone involved with the programme is looking forward to an exciting season ahead, with the action beginning over Sweden's frozen roads in 10 days time.”
Ford Abu Dhabi technical director Christian Loriaux meanwhile added that the Cumbria-based squad has not compromised in any area with the development of the Fiesta RS WRC.
“We obtained plenty of data from the standard Fiesta road car, and the S2000 which competed in the S-WRC and other championships last year. But we still re-evaluated every area and if we thought certain areas could be improved, we went ahead and did so," he explained.
“Apart from the roll cage and chassis there aren't too many parts that the Fiesta RS WRC shares with the S2000. Plenty of parts may look similar, but they have been modified to be lighter, stiffer or whatever we felt would bring an improvement."
The Fiesta RS WRC will be powered by a 1.6-litre turbocharged direct injection engine and the implementation of direct injection technology, which is relatively new in motorsport, was a huge challenge for Loriaux and his team.
“It was a massive undertaking,” he added. “Direct injection was a complex beast and it was the first time many of us in the team had the opportunity to work with forced injection in a competition engine. The engine was the biggest challenge of the whole project.”
Despite that though, to date more than 11,000 kilometres of testing have been completed in preparation for the Fiesta RS WRC cars debut - the equivalent of more than two full seasons of WRC competition - and that has left Ford feeling pretty bullish prior to the opener.
“We're encouraged by both the car's performance and its reliability over thousands of kilometres of testing, and we're confident we can transfer that into competition,” Ford Abu Dhabi team director Malcolm Wilson stated.
“But the true test will of course come during the opening round in Sweden next week,” he concluded.