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RALLYING AT M-SPORT

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Ford Fiesta S2000 Ford Fiesta S2000

Homologated in January 2010, the Ford Fiesta S2000 is eligible to compete in national rally championships around the world as well as the IRC and S2000 WRC (S-WRC).

Continuing their close relationship with Ford, the team at M-Sport worked in tandem with Ford's Motorsport Technical Manager Mike Norton and the Ford small car design team that developed the acclaimed kinetic design of the Fiesta road car, to develop a dynamic and aggressive looking rally car.

Working within new FIA Sporting Regulations, the experience gained from developing the record-breaking Ford Focus RS WRC was harnessed by the M-Sport team to develop the S2000 which can be used by customers at both national and international level.

The arrival of the Fiesta S2000 means that together Ford and M-Sport offer a complete ‘Ladder of Opportunity’ for rally competitors to graduate with Ford from national level right through to the top epsilons of the WRC.

The development of the Ford Fiesta S2000

The development of the S2000 saw a move away from the tried and tested Ford Focus to the new highly-acclaimed Ford Fiesta.  With its strong aerodynamic package, light bodyshell and good road handling the new Fiesta was judged to be the perfect base car for the M-Sport team to develop.

The new Sporting Regulations introduced by the FIA in 2012, which placed an emphasis on making competition vehicles as cost effective as possible, presented new challenges for Christian Loriaux and his team at M-Sport, all of which had to be overcome in an extremely short space of time.  The experience gained from the development of the recording-breaking Ford Focus RS WRC was put to good use throughout the project while adapting certain aspects of the car to fit the new rules.

One of the biggest challenges was the size of the Fiesta's cockpit.  Despite rules which allowed the maximum width of the car to be 1820mm, 20mm wider than the previous regulations, the passenger compartment of the car remained small.  With driver safety paramount, the crew have to be kept as far away from the outside of the car as possible so finding room for the competition seats, whilst taking this into account, was a real test for the designers.

An advantage of the extra width was that it allowed more lateral grip and the Fiesta S2000, the first car to be designed within these new rules, really benefited from that.  Stricter definitions of the rollcage geometry were also laid out by the FIA and more basic requirements, like an increase in the size of the tube used to construct the rollcage from 38mm to 50mm, were also included in the compulsory guidelines.

M-Sport Technical Director Christian Loriaux and his team studied 50 different rollcage options, taking into account safety considerations alongside weight distribution and the stiffness of the rollcage to maximise the Fiesta S2000's handling abilities.  The cockpit itself was designed to maintain the best possible visibility for the crew, who have to sit quite far back in the car.

The Fiesta S2000 has been designed in line with the latest FIA safety regulations and will be able to accept the new FIA safety seat design.  The car came through its FIA crash test with flying colours; a maximum deflection of 100mm is allowed and the Fiesta passed with just 10mm of deflection.

The new car's suspension is based on the MacPherson strut system, a simpler system than that used on the Ford Focus RS WRC, but as on the old WRC car, the Fiesta uses Reiger shock absorbers. However, new FIA rules which ban ball bearings in the dampers meant that significant research was needed to reduce the friction losses.

M-Sport selected Xtrac to supply the transmission system for the car based on their previous experience of S2000 technology with other manufacturers.  Engine development has again been restricted by the new regulations but M-Sport continued to work with French company Pipo on the project.  The normally aspirated engine in the Fiesta S2000 uses the same basic two-litre block and cylinder head that was used in the Focus RS WRC.  The advantage of an atmospherically aspirated engine is that it fits comfortably under the bonnet of the smaller car.

After initial tests in the UK, the car underwent kinematic testing to measure suspension movement and stiffness, at Ford's proving ground in Lommel, Belgium before a rigorous week of Tarmac and gravel testing in France with both Markko Märtin and Matthew Wilson sharing the driving duties.