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GP Week : Issue 115
WRC sardegna >> Not content with the upgraded engine in their World Rally Car, Ford produced uprated engines for four of the (old generation) Super 2000 customers (Al Attiyah, Prokop, Tanak and Rene Kuipers). The difficulty for works Skoda driver Juho Hanninen in matching the pace of the lesser experienced Tanak during the rally spoke volumes about the performance of the engine. M -Sport sources explained that these engines feature a new cylinder head (as did the Fiesta World Rally Cars), a new airbox design and new gear ratios to suit, and this was coupled to a new exhaust system that was debuted in the Rally of Spain last year. Further detailed changes appeared on the S2000 cars, including uprated shock absorbers and changes to the front splitter aimed at improved maintenance. Bernardo Sousa ran with the original design of engine in Sardinia but expects to have a uprated engine in time for the next event. These changes were homologated by the FIA in January but have not appeared in action until now. Revised engines were fitted to the Ford Fiesta WRC cars in time for Sardinia, following recent and intensive development work prior to the FIA’s May 1 deadline for finalising the World Rally Car engine designs. M-Sport’s Technical Director Christian Loriaux stated that most of the work centred on the direct injection system, but also confirmed that a new stronger cylinder head, aimed at giving greater strength, had been homologated: “ There have been a lot of changes in the mapping on the injectors so on. We have been working on this since the beginning of the programme. The changes in the cylinder head have been just for reinforcement, after we experienced cracking. Considerable simulation work has been carried out on the combustion chambers and the shape of injectors and timing of injectors and design of combustion chamber shapes, and we’ve been working on that with colleagues at Ford in America.” When asked about changes to the design of the combustion chamber and the design of the pistons, Loriaux declined to give more information, but confirmed they were essentially happy with other aspects of the car: “Our other work has been on trying to refine the car and we have been looking at ways to save weight for later. At this time everything is homologated and we cannot do anything without using the joker homologation options." The mid-season change of construction for the Michelin gravel tyres led to detailed changes in suspension set-up, on the geometry, dampers and springs, but without big changes: “Originally the car was prepared for running on the old Pirelli tyres which were already very stiff. It seems that the suspension can live with the stiffness of the new tyre." The week before the Sardinia Rally the team were engaged in tests using gravel tyres on asphalt surfaces, ready for the two mixed surface stages to be run in Argentina: “ We were looking at what we needed to do in order to set up the car and so on. To be honest you cannot do very much because it is always going to be a compromise where you have a lot of tarmac but the drivers were very happy our ideas. The situation in Argentina will be similar to the situation using gravel tyres on asphalt in Cyprus and in New Zealand, but we have to be careful in Argentina if it is very dry as the tyre wear could be difficult. If Argentina will be dry and warm, tyre wear could be a challenge.” FIA sources confirmed that both Ford and Citroen supplied examples of the engine parts to be used for the rest of the season by the specified deadline, and that Citroen are proceeding with the same cylinder head designs. Things were looking good for the Academy drivers in the first three stages, then came their Armageddon. Sixteen of the 18 Academy starters went into Stage 4; only seven came out. Fiestas were abandoned to the left and to the right, all of them broken through impacts which damaged the engines and steering. It was like one endless scrap heap. Surprisingly most of the cars were repaired but not until two hours before the scheduled restart on the morning of Day 2. In the end, eight of the 16 were actually classified as finishers, headed for the second time by the Estonian Egon Kaur, finishing ahead of Argentine driver Miguel Baldoni. The cars were equally matched – six different drivers held the lead during the two days their cars were competing and six different drivers made fastest time. The Academy drivers next appear in Finland at the end of August. Kaur heads Academy Cup survivors Engine changes for Fiesta WRCs and Super 2000 Strong debut for new Fiesta S2000 45