Ford will join the Australian Rally Championship in 2013 with the rally bred Ford Fiesta R2 and its little brother the Fiesta R1. The cars are available to competitors for next year's Championship through the Ford Australia sanctioned reseller RSPORT.
CEO of the Australian Rally Championship, Scott Pedder has confirmed that the FIA homologated R2 and R1 spec Ford Fiestas will be available in a variety of kit options that will give competitors a cost effective rally car that could be a competitive outright contender as well as being able to compete in a new Fiesta Sport Trophy, details of which are expected to be announced in coming weeks.
"This program is an exciting development for next year's Australian Rally Championship and it is fantastic to announce a return to the Australian Rally Championship by Ford," Scott Pedder said.
"The involvement of Ford in this exciting project has been critical to its fruition and shows that global manufacturers see the value of the ARC as a marketing tool for their products," he said.
"It is also a ringing endorsement of the direction the ARC is taking next year." Pedder added.
According to Ford Motorsport Manager, Graham Barrie, rallying is central to Ford's global motorsport strategy and Fiesta is a key focus of Ford Australia. There is a natural synergy particularly with the new direction of the Australian Rally Championship.
"Ford Australia is pleased to announce support for RSPORT and the Australian Rally Championship in providing its Fiesta R1 and R2 rally car to competitors for the 2013 Australian Rally Championship" Graham Barrie said.
While the program has been sanctioned by Ford Australia, sales and ongoing support has been outsourced to Canberra based company RSPORT. The new business is a joint venture between two experienced Canberra rally identities, Phil Coppin and Peter Taylor.
The pair started work on the project over two years ago and are extremely pleased that the negotiations have reached a successful conclusion.
"This announcement is the conclusion of two years of hard work but the thing that kept us going was our belief that the Fiesta R2 can surprise a few people with its pace next year," said Phil Coppin.
"Fiesta is a perfect vehicle to feed young talent from the various State rally championships into the ARC and from there to the world stage." Coppin said.
The Fiesta R2 is based on the best-selling Ford Fiesta. The R2 uses a 1.6 litre 16valve Ti-VCT engine mated to a five-speed Sadev sequential gearbox, which when combined with the M-Sport conversion kit delivers 127kw at 7500 rpm and torque of 182 Nm at 5,700 rpm with an overall weight of just 1030 kilograms.
The R1 specification Fiesta offers a base-level conversion kit featuring the same personal safety and underbody protection as the Fiesta R2 but using standard engine and transmission components with power of approximately 90kW of power and 152 Nm of torque to comply with international R1 regulations.
The various kits can provide competitors with the option of upgrading their Fiesta piece by piece, allowing them to easily move up to full Fiesta R2 spec if desired.
The price for the R2 competition kit plus donor vehicle is expected to be just on $50,000 excluding GST and freight, making it an extremely cost effective vehicle for privateer competitors looking for an outright-competitive option for the 2013 Australian Rally Championship.
"We are looking to get a batch of orders together by early November for delivery; hopefully pre-Christmas. The batching of orders will allow competitors to share the costs of the freight and achieve a cost saving compared to purchasing a single kit." Phil Coppin said.
"This is a serious rally car engineered by some of the world's best rally engineers at M-Sport," said Scott Pedder.
"In the highly competitive British Rally Championship, which switched to a two wheel drive format this year, young Welsh driver Elfyn Evans, driving a Fiesta R2 is currently leading the point score with one round remaining against works supported R3 spec Citroens, Renaults and Skodas."
"The Fiesta will be very successful in the ARC in the hands of our experienced crews and I am sure some of the young guns looking to fight their way to the top will spring the odd surprise."
'It will also provide local crews with a cost effective FIA homologated rally car in which to compete against international crews at Rally Australia next year.
"I am confident that more and more opportunities will open up for manufacturer supported drives in the next few years and I believe the R2 Fiesta provides a great platform for privateer competitors to prove their abilities." Scott Pedder said.
The Fiesta Sport Trophy is expected to be announced shortly and will be run in conjunction with selected rounds of the 2013 Australian Rally Championship.
The FST will see Fiesta drivers fighting it out for an opportunity to represent Australia at the International FST Shootout in the UK late next year. In the past the winner has received a 12-month contract to work for M-Sport alongside some of the world's best rally driver like Jari-Matti Latvala and Petter Solberg. Australia will be the 13th country to initiate this highly-successful one-make rally series.
Full details on the Ford Fiesta R1 and R2 kits and program are available by contacting Phil Coppin on 0400 795686 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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