The World Rally Championship is downsizing. Not in the number of teams participating – that's actually expected to increase – but in the size of its cars. While Formula One is set to switch to turbo fours, the WRC is switching to smaller cars, similar to the Super 2000 formula. And so, in-line with the new regulations, Ford is switching from a Focus-based rally challenger to the new Fiesta.
The WRC-spec Fiesta RS was revealed in tentative, showgoing livery back in Paris, but the team has now unveiled the car in the full competition livery in which it will take on the world's most challenging rally stages. Similar to the livery featured on the outgoing Focus, the new Fiesta RS WRC is dominated by the logos of title sponsor Abu Dhabi – which takes over from BP – and secondary sponsor Castrol's Edge range of motor oils.
Full specifications have still yet to be released, so we'll have to wait until early February before the new Fiesta RS WRC hits the season-starting Rally Sweden from Feb 10-13. Details in the press release after the jump with high-resolution images of the liveried rally machine in the gallery below.
ALL-NEW FORD FIESTA RS WORLD RALLY CAR BREAKS COVER IN 2011 COLOUR SCHEME
BIRMINGHAM, 13 January 2011 - Ford's all-new Fiesta RS World Rally Car was revealed in its 2011-specification today when the company unveiled the colour scheme that will adorn the car in the FIA World Rally Championship.
Team driver Mikko Hirvonen and Ford of Europe motorsport chief Gerard Quinn unveiled the livery for the eye-catching Fiesta RS WRC at the Autosport International Racing Car Show in Birmingham, motorsport's traditional start-of-season showcase event.
Ford's official WRC squad for 2011 also confirmed its new name and logo - it will compete as the Ford Abu Dhabi World Rally Team.
Title partner Abu Dhabi will continue its support throughout 2011 and its distinctive branding will also feature strongly in the new-look livery. Abu Dhabi has been a team partner since 2007 and Emirati driver Khalid Al Qassimi will drive a third Fiesta RS WRC in support of team-mates Hirvonen and Jari-Matti Latvala.
The team will also be sponsored by Castrol, the world's leading lubricants brand and a partner since 2005. Branding for Castrol EDGE, its global range of best-in-class motor oils, will feature prominently in the Fiesta RS WRC's livery.
BP, Castrol's parent company, plans to promote the Castrol EDGE range of advanced synthetic oils, and demonstrate their strength to perform in the demanding surroundings of the WRC.
"The preview version of the car we unveiled in September at the 2010 Paris Motor Show was dramatic in its blue and grey livery, developed specifically for the show by Ford of Europe's design team," said Quinn.
"But now we have a fully finished car in a really eye-catching new livery plus a new team name, and excitement is building throughout the squad as we prepare for the opening round in Sweden next month.
"Ford's designers and product development engineers have worked closely and efficiently alongside the expertise of our partners at M-Sport. The aim was, of course, to produce a car capable of challenging for world championship titles, but one which also reflects the much-admired 'kinetic design' styling cues synonymous with Ford's current road vehicles," added Quinn.
Ford's WRC challenger, derived from the best-selling Fiesta road car, has been developed by Ford of Europe and British-based rally partner M-Sport. It is based on the Fiesta S2000 rally car, which won the legendary Monte Carlo Rally in January 2010 and other international and national rallies during the season.
The Fiesta RS WRC will form part of a new era in the world championship, for which a revised cost-effective formula is introduced this season. It boasts four-wheel drive transmission and a 1.6-litre turbocharged engine, based on the new Ford EcoBoost road vehicle power plant, to comply with the new regulations.
The full specification of the car will be available at the beginning of February. Testing will continue in Sweden next week ahead of the Fiesta RS WRC's championship debut in Rally Sweden, the opening round of the series, on 10 - 13 February.