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GP Week : Issue 41
>>WRCINSIGHT Running to plan ... T HINGS are really moving at M-Sport. It was confirmed during the Rally of Portugal last week that the new entry-level Fiesta was going to be homologated on July 1. This is also the time when cars can be designed for the next set of World Championship rules. Christian Loriaux, Technical Director at M-Sport, knows that the next generation of championship rallying is coming frighteningly soon. The current design of World Rally cars, which have been the centre of world championship sport since 1997, will be outlawed in 18 months time and normally-aspirated cars based on Super 2000 will replace them. Although it is not yet known which FIA approved transmission supplier will be used for Ford’s Super 2000, it is now confirmed that the new model Fiesta will be the basis for its Super 2000. Loriaux knows that a Super 2000 car is a lot easier to design than a current World Rally car. There is no turbo, no intercooler, no fresh air injection, no design of transmission hydraulic systems. A Super 2000 is also easier to package. Although work on a Ford Fiesta S2000 was carried out two years ago in Australia, this is a brand new project based on a completely different base car. Loriaux tells us, as much as he is permitted, what is going on a M-Sport: “The technical regulations are finalised and we now need to start working a lot more. Our aim is to have the first new regulation World Rally car running by September, in five months’time. This is important so that the cars will then be available for sale to teams so they can run the car at the start of the 2010 season.” What will be the telling factor for a winning Super 2000 car? “It is the same as ever! Look at the Skoda Fabia S2000 which benefitted from the design lessons learned from the Fabia World Rally car. “So much of the winning factors are in the small details, things you do not immediately notice but which lumped together make all the difference – the little refinements, the precise suspension geometry. The small details all add up.” The FIA has decreed that the new ‘World Rally Car’will be based on Super 2000 but with certain specific add-on parts. What difference will these parts make to the performance – or are they just cosmetic? “I really don’t know. All we know is that the World Council says there will be small differences between the two. The only identifiable performance change will be the larger rear wing, the same size as we use on the World Rally car. “Obviously we approve the idea that cars in the World Championship should be the pinnacle of the sport and should produce extra excitement. “We cannot help thinking that for a little extra money so much more could be done – extra camshaft lift, four throttle bodies instead of a single one, we could have 9000rpm instead of 8500, for only a few extra thousand euros. All this could be done. “Last year I went to the end- of-season non championship Monza Rally. It was a big eye- Ford’s new Super 2000 rally car, and World Championship contender, is on schedule, as MARTIN HOLMES reveals opener in terms of a show, and we enjoyed watching the Super 2000 cars, because they made more noise and were revving higher – they looked faster than our World Rally Car, even though those cars were probably delivering a lot less power than we have! “I still remember the excitement of the old two- wheel 2-litre Kit Cars, which revved up to 10,000rpm. We could have recreated that, but I don’t think it will happen like that.” Are you looking forward to working on the new car? “I am sad to see a lot of the technology go, and a lot of fantastic technology has already gone. “In 2004 we designed a differential. Only two of them were ever built. We had clutch drive to every wheel, torque management, we could put what torque we wanted on every wheel. We were working on things like active suspension and active ride height. It would have been brilliant for showing everyone what we could do, it would have pushed technology a good step forward, a great way to show how motor sport can lead the way forward. But it never happened, never used, all thrown away! “Anyway Super 2000 will be a lot cheaper. Still the best man will win but hopefully the new formula will bring more manufacturers back. And if not more manufacturers, then it will attract more good young drivers. Super 2000 will certainly make it more difficult to predict who is going to win. It will give a lot of chance for non-official entries to be competitive at World Spy Shot: Matthew Wilson secretly tested the new Fiesta rally car in Cumbria last month. Championship level and for sure that will produce a lot of action packed drama.” So as doors are closed, the engineers open new ones? “If the Super 2000 regulations are applied properly, and if they do not let too many doors open and make sure all the cars are strictly by the rules, it will be fantastic. But we will certainly have to do new things that we haven’t done before, things which the rules force you to do and which we would never normally think of doing, and that is the new challenge for us. You have to keep on your toes. “You cannot assume that you are going to be able to do things exactly like you have done before. I know the new regulations have been devised for the good purpose of making things cheaper. The exciting thing is to have a challenge.” There is still one thing we do not know – will Ford be running ‘officially’ in the WRC after the end of 2009? For the moment, the development of the Fiesta Super 2000 means that, at least, Fords in various colours will at least be on the entry lists in future, even if not also in the official works colours … 43