Production of M-Sport's first Ford Fiesta S2000 rally car underway
Three months since the news that M-Sport would be starting work on a Fiesta S2000 rally car, the company has announced that it is ready to begin production of the first vehicle. Construction of the first shell should be completed this week and will allow building of the exciting new rally car to commence.
The design and development of the Fiesta S2000 rally car at M-Sport's Cumbrian base has been making good progress and is being completed according to schedule. Since the announcement of the project in April work has been steadily increasing and for the last month a team of ten designers and engineers have been working around the clock on the project.
The vast majority of the design has now been completed and the new rally car, based on the top-selling Ford Fiesta road car, has been confirmed as the vehicle which Ford will use to campaign the 2011 FIA World Rally Championship. The manufacture of S2000 rally car parts is already ahead of schedule with many components already delivered to M-Sport and the remainder in advanced stages of production.
The design team, led by M-Sport's award-winning Technical Director Christian Loriaux, has applied the same design philosophy that was behind the record-breaking Ford Focus RS WRC. The knowledge gained from the development of that car has gone into the design of the new Fiesta S2000 rally car, whilst still working within the new technical regulations laid out by the FIA.
Refining the design to work within the new parameters, which include a ban on the use of high-cost materials like titanium, Kevlar and carbon fibre, the team at M-Sport has concentrated on developing the best possible weight distribution for the car.
One of the first areas to be finalised was the roll cage. Stricter definitions of the roll cage geometry have been laid out by the FIA in order to improve safety and more basic requirements, like an increase in the size of the tube used to construct the roll cage from 38mm to 50mm, have been included in the compulsory guidelines.
More than 40 different roll cage options were studied, with the priority on increased safety but also taking into account weight distribution and the stiffness of the roll cage, to maximise the S2000's handling abilities.
Nearly all of the varying roll cage options were tested on M-Sport's test rig. This 'live' testing method significantly reduced the amount of time it took for the team at M-Sport to determine the best design solution for the new-look roll cage. The result is a cage that is 5 per cent stiffer than the current Focus RS WRC design -- delivering increased safety without incurring a weight penalty.
Construction of the engine, being undertaken by Pipo Moteurs, has progressed well and the dyno development work has now been completed. The comprehensive dyno testing programme has shown that the new engine compares favourably against its rivals and the team at M-Sport is happy with the proposed performance of the engine. As per the regulations, the engine will have an 8500rpm rev limit and a maximum valve lift of 12mm.
The first engine is due for installation into the car at the end of August and then work on the construction of the first vehicle will begin in earnest. Once that phase is complete engine tests will be run to measure performance and reliability.
The design team at M-Sport have worked closely with the Ford B-Car team to take advantage of the computer-aided design technology embraced in the development of the new Fiesta road car and to integrate many of its kinetic design principles.
The FIA sporting regulations allow the car to have a maximum width of 1820mm. This has enabled designers to make significant changes to the aerodynamic design of the narrow Fiesta base car. A comprehensive aerodynamic study has been undertaken on the updated design which has produced a dynamic and aggressive looking vehicle.
M-Sport Technical Director Christian Loriaux said:
"M-Sport is a proven leader in roll cage design concepts, and we have put into practice all of our experience in the design for the new M-Sport Ford Fiesta S2000 rally car. All of the design has now been completed and our excellent in-house facilities at Dovenby Hall have allowed us to challenge our theories through live testing. All aspects of the new car are progressing according to schedule and we are very pleased with the progress so far."
M-Sport Managing Director Malcolm Wilson OBE said:
"The Fiesta S2000 rally car is really starting to take shape now. We have been spurred on by the announcement last week of Ford's two-year commitment to the FIA World Rally Championship and the introduction of the Fiesta S2000 as its car to campaign the 2011 series. Next year sees the introduction of the World Cup for S2000 cars within the WRC and will give privateers and teams alike a real chance to challenge for victory in a new car which has been built with all our technical expertise and experience."