Ford and Citroen are the only two manufacturers currently involved in the World Rally Championship, but the competition is as hot as ever. Ford’s Fiesta was recently given the stamp of approval by the FIA to compete in this year’s events.
In a departure from last year, Ford is now running a Fiesta rather than a Focus in the WRC. In compliance with new series regulations, the car is powered by a 1.6-liter turbocharged I-4, rather than the 2.0-liter powerplant the Focus previously. The engine size reduction was implemented for the 2011 season as the WRC’s sanctioning body pushed for cost effective solutions.
French engine builder Pipo Moteurs was assigned the task of constructing an engine with the stringent specifications required of the team. Although fitted with a 33 mm inlet restrictor, the tuned engine sends 300 horsepower and 332 pound feet of torque to all four corners through a six-speed sequential transmission.
Terrain ranging from asphalt, to gravel, to snow requires upgraded suspension components capable of handling the diverse surfaces. New springs and struts have been fitted along with upgraded anti-roll bars front and rear. Four-piston Brembo calipers grab hold of ventilated discs, but the diameter varies depending on road surfaces. Gravel roads call for 11.8-inch rotors, while the team utilizes 13.8-inch on asphalt (the maximum allowable size). A hydraulic handbrake locks up the tires when the driver needs.
OZ Racing wheels wrapped in Michelin rubber are bolted to the corners, with 15-inch diameter rollers reserved for snow and gravel and larger 18-inch wheels utilized on tarmac. A tight 12:1 steering ratio aids in maneuverability with only 1.5 turns lock to lock.
Ford has completed near 7000 miles of testing with the car and believes it is ready to tackle the 2011 WRC season. Team drivers Mikko Hirvonen and Jari-Matti Latvala will soon take to the snow and ice for the first event of the 2011 season at Rally Sweden. Will Hirvonen defend his Rally Sweden crown? We’ll find out later this month, when the event kicks off on Thursday, February 10th.