Newry, Maine, June 12th 2015; UK based motorsports team, M-Sport, has today announced that it is working with Ken Block's Hoonigan Racing and Team O'Neil to debut the new Ford Fiesta R5 2000cc and the new Ford Fiesta R2 1000cc at the forthcoming New England Forest Rally (NEFR) on 17/18th July 2015.
"I'm excited about partnering with M-Sport at NEFR this year," said Block. "I absolutely love my Ford Fiesta HFHV that we've built, but the idea of a car like the R5 that's potentially just as quick, isn't made up of one-off parts and features a lower operating cost is definitely an appealing prospect! I'm looking forward to putting it through the paces at our test prior to the event." M-Sport Managing Director, Malcolm Wilson OBE, said: "This is a great chance for us to work with Ken and the Hoonigan Team and introduce these new cars to the Rally-America audience. Both Ramana and Brendan know the rally well and hopefully we can offer support to Ken to get the Ford oval back at the top step of the podium."
The Ford Fiesta R5 2000cc is an evolution of the successful Fiesta R5 that has now sold over 120 cars in over 30 countries around the world. The 2000cc is a new engine – developed in-house by M-Sport, using the latest generation Ford EcoBoost technology – and is aimed at markets where FIA homologation is not required, in particular the US and China.
The car uses a 34mm air restrictor and produces more power and torque than the Ford Fiesta RS WRC at half the cost. It also borrows the rear aerodynamic device from the WRC car to increase rear downforce and help high-speed stability. The rest of the car uses the familiar Fiesta R5 chassis, suspension and electronics which have proven to be capable of coping with the significant step up in both power and torque while remaining economical to build and maintain.
Boston based driver, Ramana Lagemann will drive the car with Canadian co-driver Nathalie Richard. Ramana hasn't driven a 4WD car in competition recently, but will have a short test at Team O'Neil's rally school at Dalton, NH before the rally – the intention is to assess the potential of the car and build speed over the course of the 120-mile event. "I consider NEFR to be my home event, and I have many fond memories of it. It was my first-ever rally in 1999, and in 2006 it was the site of my first National win, driving a Ford no less!
"I have followed the Fiesta R5 since its inception, and I have been impressed with how successful the platform has proven to be. Now, with this 2000cc version, M-Sport has developed a car that is well suited to North American stages. I had the opportunity to test it recently, and aside from the awesome chassis capability and balance inherent in all R5 Fiestas, I was amazed by the engine's responsiveness and torque.
"It's been a few years since I competed in a proper AWD rally car, and I'm well aware of the time it will take to get fully up to speed. My goal is to take everything step by step in a measured approach, and produce a solid result for the team. I am extremely excited for this event, and thankful to everyone at M-Sport for the opportunity to help launch this incredible new car!" said Ramana.
In addition to the Fiesta R5, M-Sport will also run the new Ford Fiesta R2, with its revolutionary 1000cc three-cylinder EcoBoost turbocharged engine, in its North American debut. Homologated to compete in the FIA R2 class, the 180PS engine combines the renowned handling of the Fiesta R2 with the substantial torque increase of the turbocharged engine to create a car that offers improved performance over the normally aspirated competition.
The new Fiesta R2 was debuted at the recent World Rally Championship Rally de Portugal where it took a class win in the hands of Drive DMACK Fiesta Trophy competitor, Max Vatanen. Both the Fiesta R5 and the Fiesta R2 will use DMACK tyres at the New England Forest Rally – having proven to be Rally-America winners in the past.
Australian driver, Brendan Reeves will drive the new Fiesta R2 with fellow countryman Anthony Mcloughlin calling the pacenotes. Brendan will bring his experience of the Ford Fiesta and the Sunday River stages into play in an aim to highlight the speed of the new EcoBoost Fiesta R2 and increase his tally of 2WD class wins in the Rally-America series.
"I'm very excited to drive the new Fiesta R2 as the 1600cc car was such a brilliant package. I can't wait to see what we can do with the new engine platform. NEFR is an amazing event and Anthony and I are privileged to be a part of the M-Sport team." noted Reeves
Hoonigan driver, Ken Block will lead the team in his Ford Fiesta HFHV as he attempts to re-claim the winner's trophy that he garnered in 2013. The event will be a family affair as Ken's wife Lucy Block will also drive a more familiar Ford Fiesta R2 1600cc on the fabulous stages around Bethel, Maine.