Lit­tle bat­tlers to take on the world

Herald Sun - Motoring - - Paris Motor Show -

THE rad­i­cal fu­ture of the World Rally Cham­pi­onship is pre­viewed at Paris thanks to Citroen, Ford and Mini.

The three brands are gear­ing-up for an at­tack on next year’s new-age world cham­pi­onship, which will be open to smaller cars with smaller 1.6-litre tur­bocharged en­gines.

Down­siz­ing in the se­ries means Citroen is switch­ing to its C3, Ford is mov­ing from the Fo­cus to the Fi­esta, and Mini is com­ing back to ral­ly­ing for the first time since the 1960s with its Coun­try­man.

Ford al­ready knows it has a win­ner in the Fi­esta, which claimed Monte Carlo Rally this year with­out a tur­bocharged en­gine.

It is shown in Paris just a week be­fore Ford be­gins test­ing for next year’s cham­pi­onship, when it will try to end Se­bas­tian Loeb’s sixyear run as world cham­pi­onship with Citroen.

‘‘Count­less hours have gone into the Fi­esta RS WRC to reach this point,’’ says Ford rally boss Mal­colm Wil­son. ‘‘We are right on track with our devel­op­ment.’’

Citroen is test­ing and picks up the ba­sic me­chan­i­cal pack­age from the suc­cess­ful C4, with aero-tweak­ing to the DS3 body in­clud­ing wider guards, a gi­ant rear wing and cool­ing vents in the body.

But the rally star in Paris is the Mini, un­veiled by FIA pres­i­dent and for­mer rally co-driver Jean Todt.

‘‘The re­sponse to our an­nounce­ment that Mini will re­turn to the world of ral­ly­ing next year was very pos­i­tive, says Mini global mar­ket­ing boss Ian Robert­son. ‘‘The FIA World Rally Cham­pi­onship is the pin­na­cle of ral­ly­ing.’’

Test­ing: the Mini WRC (above) and the Ford Fi­esta RS (right) are be­ing pre­pared for World Rally rac­ing.

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