Little battlers to take on the world
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.