FIA-RCC: Opportunity knocks at Ford for young rally hopefuls

BIRMINGHAM, England, January 11, 2001 - Ford's long heritage of providing the cars that help to make world rally champions continues with its rallying 'Ladder of Opportunity', announced today (Thursday) at the Autosport International Show. "From...

BIRMINGHAM, England, January 11, 2001 - Ford's long heritage of providing the cars that help to make world rally champions continues with its rallying 'Ladder of Opportunity', announced today (Thursday) at the Autosport International Show.

"From the novice to the aspiring world champion, Ford Racing now has the rally car to suit", explained Ford Racing Engineering Manager, Philip Dunabin. "When the Ford Escort was the rally car to beat, many drivers went on to greater things by progressing from their rally-prepared Escort Mexicos to more powerful RS1600s. Back then, rally preparation was less complicated than today and many private drivers' rally cars were built in much the same way as the official 'works' machines.

"Today, technology has developed significantly and WRC-level rally cars are now highly sophisticated and complex machines. The difference between these and national-level rally cars is much greater, making progress through the ranks as a driver more difficult. That is why Ford has introduced its 'Ladder of Opportunity', to give a more structured route to the top of rallying and to provide a car for each step of the way," concluded Dunabin.

Key to the structure is the introduction of 'Super 1600', a new FIA World Rally Championship category for 2001. 'Super 1600' cars will also compete in various national rally championships, but the category is designed primarily to provide private rally drivers with an opportunity to display their talents to a wider audience by also competing at up to six rounds of the World Championship.

"Super 1600 will allow potential world rally drivers to learn world rally events so they arrive in the championship with key experience and it will also provide a platform for real new talent to shine," added Martin Whitaker, European Director of Ford Racing. Ford is providing drivers in this new category with the option of the specially developed Ford Puma Super 1600, a mildly detuned version of the existing Ford Puma Kit Car. The Puma Super 1600 will be approved for motorsport on March 1, 2001. It completes Ford Racing's structured range of rally cars, which also includes the uprated 2001 Ford Ka Rally and the class-leading Ford Puma 1400 Kit Car, to provide potential World Rally drivers with the best possible route to the top.

Ford Racing 'Ladder of Opportunity' - The 2001 Cars:

Ka Rally - A truly low-cost and reliable rally car, the Ka Rally represents the lower rung of Ford's rallying Ladder of Opportunity. Ford Racing has many year's experience with its 'baby' rally car and has uprated the Ka Rally for 2001. Engine modifications improve the power produced by its 1.3-litre Endura E engine up to 93bhp. Completing the picture are new wider wheelarches, which allow bigger road wheels to be fitted, new bonnet grilles, a roof vent and a new aerodynamic rear spoiler.

Puma 1400 Kit Car - This popular next rung in Ford's rallying Ladder of Opportunity is the most competitive car in the up-to-1400cc rally class. While its big sister, the Puma Super 1600 is a world-class specialised competition vehicle, Ford Racing gave itself the brief to develop the Puma 1400 Kit Car as: "A nice looking Kit Car at the lowest possible price." With its integrated wide wheelarches and acclaimed styling, this 150bhp 1400cc class-leading competitor has class victory performance, and provides the wherewithal to learn about rallying as a driver makes his way through the sport. Designed to use many standard Ford components, the Puma 1400 Kit Car is eminently affordable.

Additionally, as part of its Ladder of Opportunity philosophy, Ford Racing has ensured that the Puma 1400 Kit Car is entirely upgradeable to Puma Super 1600 specification should an owner wish to do so.

Puma Super 1600 - The entry level to the big league, Ford's Puma Super 1600 has been developed from the Puma 1600 Kit Car to conform to the new FIA 'Super 1600' category for 2001. It is eligible for certain national rally series, plus the Super 1600 Championship, which will run over six rounds of the 14-round World Rally Championship in 2001. Equipped with the relevant FIA Super 1600 engine restrictions, its 1597cc 16-valve Zetec SE all-alloy engine produces over 200 bhp. Its fully developed chassis is the same as that of the successful Puma Kit Car. The Puma Super 1600 is a worthy contender, and drivers of this purpose-built competition machine will be particularly well placed to catch the eye of top manufacturer rally team bosses.

Focus RS WRC 01 - From its turbocharged 2-litre Zetec engine, through its sophisticated gearbox system to its automated 'active' transmission and four-wheel drive, Ford's RS World Rally Car is the state of the rallying art. Designed and developed to win at the very highest level of world rallying, the Ford Focus RS WRC forms the top rung of Ford's Ladder of Opportunity.

In 2001, top-class rally drivers are scheduled to compete with Focus RS WRC cars in premier rally series outside the World Championship, including championships in Austria, Britain, Finland, Italy, the Middle East and Poland.

-Ford Racing-

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Series Other rally , WRC
Teams Racing Engineering