Skip to content

Q & A: Chris Williams, Head of Rally Engineering at M-Sport

January 17, 2017

Head of Rally Engineering at M-Sport and the man behind the all-new Ford Fiesta WRC, Chris Williams gives us his thoughts ahead of Rallye Monte-Carlo.

When did work begin on the Ford Fiesta WRC?

“We’ve had people working on the concept since the middle of 2015. As with any new car, the first job is to get an understanding of the regulations and where we can explore new ideas or make changes. This was particularly hard at the outset as the regulations were very fluid.”

How much freedom did the new regulations allow?

“These new regulations have definitely provided greater scope for doing something different – and you can see that in the aerodynamics alone. Working in secrecy each team has come up with something slightly different, although there are some themes that are common amongst cars.

“We set an aero balance target and we’ve achieved that. You constantly have to balance the equation of drag, downforce, durability and robustness. We’re looking for efficiency all around and everyone has had to calculate what risks they’re willing to take when it comes to the balance between performance and durability.”

How much of the Fiesta WRC has been designed from scratch?

“A lot is the simple answer. Almost every part of the car has been specifically optimized for this project with very little if any compromise. We’ve been focused to build the best car we possibly can and we’ve had everything we needed to get the job done.

“If we take the transmission as an example, the old unit was taken from the Ford Fiesta S2000 and developed for use in WRC. This year, the transmission has been specifically designed and optimised purely as a component for this car and the new regulations.”

Has the development process gone to plan?

“It’s involved a lot of hard work. We have a small, but strong team of people working around the clock behind the scenes. The design guys have been flat-out and we are pretty hopeful we can punch above our weight.

“We implemented as much as we possibly could. With any new car there are always a few areas that you would have liked to have investigated further if time allowed, but I think that is the same for everyone. Anything that we thought we had an advantage on has been incorporated.

“We have put absolutely everything we could into this project. At this point it’s hard to gauge how competitive the car will be, but we will soon see! We’ve definitely made a huge step up from our previous car.”

What’s it like to have the four-time World Champion behind the wheel of the Fiesta WRC?

“It brings a lot of pressure for sure, but it also brings a massive opportunity. The motivation here has stepped up two or three notches and everyone is extremely driven to deliver the very best over the course of the season.

“I think it’s probably fair to say that everyone was in need of a little boost at the end of last year, and Sébastien [Ogier] and Julien [Ingrassia] have certainly provided that. They got in the car and said yes, that’s a 2017 world rally car, so that’s a very good start.”

What will the atmosphere in the team by like at the start of Rallye Monte-Carlo?

“I don’t think we’ll sleep at all before the rally starts! Waiting for that first split time to come through will be a very anxious moment and it will be interesting to see if it will be a straight fight or if the conditions play a deciding factor.

“But, we’ve got the best chance that we’ve had in years. We’ve got the best drivers that we could possibly get and we need to go out there and do well. It’s as simple as that, we need to deliver, so the pressure is on!”


M-Sport announce Ford Fiesta R5 Evo2

January 12, 2017

Coinciding with the 200th Ford Fiesta R5, M-Sport are pleased to confirm a new evolution of their most successful global rally car – the Ford Fiesta R5 Evo2 – which is set to make a competitive debut later this year.

Since its inaugural launch in the midst of 2013, the EcoBoost-powered Fiesta R5 has become the most popular choice for competitors around the globe.

Having amassed 159 outright victories across 29 different countries in 2016 alone, the Fiesta has secured more individual wins than any other R5 on the market. Combining performance with unbeatable dependability, the Fiesta also boasts a class-leading reliability rating.

To celebrate the 200th Fiesta R5, M-Sport has developed a commemorative livery in a striking orange and black design. Drawing inspiration from the red and grey scheme which first adorned the Fiesta R5 at Rally Ypres in 2013, the one-off livery pays tribute to this impressive feat whilst also announcing the latest evolution.

Constantly evolving their products, M-Sport are dedicated to providing the best possible package and the latest developments add another chapter to what is already a highly successful car.

Due for release in the second quarter of 2017, the Fiesta R5 Evo2 focuses on engine enhancements with an emphasis on increased power and torque.

Changes to the cylinder head, exhaust manifold and valve train have seen performance gains throughout the rev-range which are enough to warrant the launch of a new evolution.

Continuing the collaboration with VP Racing Fuel – M-Sport’s official fuel partner for the R5 – a new VPR5 fuel will also soon be available. The new VPR5 has been refined and further developed so as to provide further gains for those who compete on 102 octane fuel in regional championships.

Further details will be revealed in the coming months and M-Sport’s sales team will be on hand at the Autosport International Show to answer any questions.

M-Sport Managing Director, Malcolm Wilson OBE, said:

“We’re continually developing our products. Our design team rarely rest on their laurels and are constantly looking to extract further performance from all of our products. We’re dedicated to providing our customers with the most competitive package and these recent findings certainly warranted an upgrade.

“There is no doubting that the Fiesta R5 is a great car and our most successful global rally car to date. Back in 2013, we never imagined that we would have 200 cars competing around the globe, but that just goes to show what a success it has become – a fact mirrored in some of the statistics we have seen over the past year alone.

“I fully believe that the Fiesta is one of the best R5s on the market, and we believe that this latest evolution is set to confirm that. We’ve seen some fantastic results from a whole range of championships, and we hope to continue that moving forward.”


TOYOTA GAZOO Racing challenge program expands Sayaka Adachi to co-drive in Finnish Rally Championship

January 12, 2017

Japanese co-driver Sayaka Adachi will contest the Finnish Rally Championship as a part of the TOYOTA GAZOO Racing Rally Challenge Program.

TOYOTA GAZOO Racing Rally Challenge Program was established to support young Japanese rallying talents to be global level drivers. With cooperation with Tommi Makinen Racing, the program has been helping two drivers develop themselves.

Adachi started her rally career in 2002 and she is a four-time Japanese Rally Champion. She has also co-driven Takamoto Katsuta, on a handful of events in 2015 and 2016. In addition, Adachi has been involved in various activities in Japan to boost interest in the sport, and now she is eager to grow up as a co-driver to higher level.

For her introduction to international competition, Adachi is teaming up with leading Finnish driver Jarkko Nikara for a campaign in Finland’s national championship which they will contest in an SM1-class Subaru Impreza. Nikara has enjoyed considerable success during his career and his natural speed will help Adachi’s progression.

“My goal in co-driving is to reach the WRC at some point,” Adachi said. “So I need to learn a new way of writing and reading pacenotes, and also get used to the high speeds I will experience competing on rallies in Finland.”

Nikara is motivated to be part of Adachi’s training program. “I’m excited about co-operation with Adachi and am looking forward to it. It is also a challenge for me to drive with a new co-driver. We have been driving together a couple of times now in a road car making pacenotes to get to know each other and how we both work. We will be driving a rally car together for the first time at the end of this week. I’m very pleased to be part of this.”

TOYOTA GAZOO Racing Rally Challenge Program instructor Jouni Ampuja said: “Sayaka and Jarkko will be contesting the full Finnish Rally Championship together this year. The first event, the Arctic Lapland Rally, is challenging and the longest rally of the series in hard winter conditions, so it’s not going to be easy. Sayaka will learn all about the new type of pacenotes and the procedures co-drivers must follow, which in Finland are pretty much the same as they are at international level.”

The TOYOTA GAZOO Racing Rally Challenge Program’s drivers, Takamoto Katsuta and Hiroki Arai, have been part of the scheme since 2015 and will undertake a full season of national and international rallies this year. The Arctic Lapland Rally is the opening event of the seven-round Finnish championship, which concludes in Tampere at the end of September. Based in Rovaniemi in the Arctic Circle, the Arctic Lapland Rally runs from 26-28 January.

2017 schedule

January 27/28 – Arctic Lapland Rally (Rovaniemi, gravel / snow)
February 17/18 – SM Vaakuna-Ralli (Mikkeli, gravel / snow)
March 10/11 – TahkoRalli (Nilsiä, gravel / snow)
May 19/20 – Riihimäki-ralli (Riihimäki, gravel)
June 9/10 – SM O.K. Auto-ralli (Kouvola, gravel)
September 8/9 – Uusikaupunki-Ralli (Uusikaupunki, gravel)
September 29/30 – Lake City Rally  (Tampere, gravel)

Nikara drove his first rally 2004 and won the Finnish Junior Rally Championship –title in 2006. He was chosen as the European Pirelli Star Driver in 2008 and he drove 6 WRC-rallies in 2009. His history with Tommi Mäkinen Racing dates back 2012 when he drove 4 IRC-rallies with the team. Since then he has been cooperating with Tommi Mäkinen including the test driving of Yaris WRC during last year.





Adachi won in Japanese Rally Championship four-years in a row from 2010. She participated in two FRC rallies in 2015. She moved from Japan to Finland for promoting TGR WRC, the challenge program and through the own rally to Japan in 2016.


Evans Joins DMACK In 2017 WRC Campaign

January 10, 2017

British tyre manufacturer DMACK will continue to compete at the pinnacle of world motorsport for the seventh consecutive season, with confirmation that it will contest the 2017 FIA World Rally Championship.

Heading the challenge for the DMACK World Rally Team will be 28-year-old Welshman Elfyn Evans in a 2017-specification Ford Fiesta WRC. Reigning British Rally Champion Evans will be reunited with long-term English co-driver Daniel Barritt – making it a truly British team.

Evans has had a short but successful partnership with DMACK, lifting the 2016 British Rally Championship title after winning five of the seven rounds and taking overall victory at the Bettega Memorial rally last month.

He will be at the wheel of M-Sport’s groundbreaking Ford Fiesta WRC and will be nominated as M-Sport’s third points scoring driver when the series kicks off with the iconic Rally Monte Carlo. The pair will finalise their preparations with a pre-event test in France on Friday 13 January.

DMACK will also continue its WRC 2 seven-round programme for the winners of last year’s Drive DMACK Fiesta Trophy. Champion Osian Pryce from Wales will be joined by Finland’s Max Vatanen and Northern Irishman Jon Armstrong – all three sharing the prize drives in an M-Sport Fiesta R5.

The Drive DMACK Fiesta Trophy, which has seen DMACK provide the biggest prize in world rallying to the world’s best young talent for the past three years, is set to become the FIA Junior WRC this season.

Comprising six rounds of the WRC, drivers from around the world will compete in identical Fiesta R2T cars run by M-Sport – again battling for the Drive DMACK prize of a full season in WRC 2.

DMACK will compete alongside Michelin as approved WRC tyre manufacturers for the seventh consecutive season. Last year was the firm’s most successful campaign, scoring 30 fastest stage times and leading two rallies outright after an intense 15-month period of technical development.

For 2017, DMACK will continue to supply its DMACK Grippa tyre range with performance upgrades to suit both WRC and WRC 2 competitors. The asphalt tyre has a revised tread pattern, profile and compounds while the successful gravel tyre benefits from performance enhancements including a run-flat construction.

Both the Monte Carlo and Sweden winter tyres have been completely redesigned with new tread patterns and studding systems.

DMACK’s 2017 season kicks off with Rally Monte Carlo which blasts away from Casino Square in Monaco on Thursday 19 January.

Dick Cormack, DMACK managing director, said: “Last year was pivotal in DMACK’s history – from both a performance and technical development aspect. Our small but extremely focused team has made huge strides forward and we’re determined to maintain that progression this season.

“Elfyn has been a great ambassador for DMACK when dominating the British championship and I’m confident his hunger for success will shine through this year.”

Elfyn Evans, DMACK WRC driver, said: “I’m really excited to be back driving a WRC car again at an exciting period for the sport with the new generation cars – and I’m thankful to DMACK for the opportunity. I’ve really enjoyed working with them over the last 12 months and being part of the development of new 2017 products.

“Being away from the top level for a season has been really hard, but it’s made me more motivated and determined to make the most of this opportunity.”


Camilli and Suninen go head-to-head with Fiesta R5 in WRC2

January 10, 2017

Éric Camilli and Benjamin Veillas will be joined by Teemu Suninen and Mikko Markkula this year as both crews take to the wheel of the EcoBoost-powered Ford Fiesta R5 for campaigns in the FIA World Rally Championship’s principal support series – WRC 2.

Both Fiestas will carry liveries that draw inspiration from the geometric ‘disguise’ livery which adorned the all-new Ford Fiesta WRC test car and forms the base designs for M-Sport’s lead drivers – Sébastien Ogier and Ott Tänak.

Having amassed 159 victories across 29 different countries, the Fiesta R5 secured more individual wins than any other R5 in 2016. With the highest reliability rating to boot, this combination of performance and durability makes the Fiesta the ideal choice for competitors around the globe.

Pairing the Fiesta’s strengths with two exceptionally talented crews, the team are putting their best foot forward to challenge throughout all levels of what looks set to be an exciting new era of world rallying.

Starting at Rallye Monte-Carlo, Camilli and Veillas will contest a full WRC 2 campaign with an opportunity for further outings as the season progresses.

The Frenchman’s story is one of an incredible rise through the rallying ranks which saw him take to the wheel of M-Sport’s Ford Fiesta RS WRC last year.

Despite a season of highs and lows, the Frenchman showed real potential – claiming a maiden stage victory on what was only his sixth outing in a world rally car and 12th ever appearance on gravel.

That potential has prompted M-Sport to keep the Frenchman on as an integral part of the team and he will contest a series of events to the gain the vital experience required to further his development.

Suninen and Markkula will start their 2017 campaign at next month’s Rally Sweden. Having secured the runner-up spot in last year’s WRC 2 championship, the Finn has proven himself worthy and will contest at least five events in the WRC 2 category with exciting opportunities for further outings within the M-Sport team.

Starting his career with the Blue Oval in 2013, Suninen spent two seasons in the Finnish Championship with M-Sport’s range of two-wheel-drive Fiestas before progressing to the world stage where he proved a force to be reckoned with.

Securing two victories and four podiums throughout last year’s WRC 2 championship, the 22-year-old now makes a welcome return to the Fiesta and is determined to better his 2016 performance.

Known for fostering young talent, M-Sport are delighted to welcome Suninen to the team and look forward to working with him as he aspires to reach the highest level of competition.

Éric Camilli said:

“The important thing for me this year is to continue to gain as much experience of as many FIA World Rally Championship events as possible. In rallying, experience is everything and it will be really important for me to continue this progression.

“When you see the drivers who will compete in the WRC 2 category at Rallye Monte-Carlo, it is very impressive. There is a real possibility for us to show our potential against experienced drivers like Andreas Mikkelsen and Bryan Bouffier – who have both been on the podium at this special event. It will be interesting to go head-to-head with them.

“The objective for the season will be to continue our development and to gain the experience and consistency that could see us back at the top-level as soon as possible. We have a great team around us, who have put their faith in us, and I hope that there will be a lot for us all to celebrate this year.”

Teemu Suninen said:

“I’m very grateful for this opportunity and very happy to join the M-Sport team. They’ve offered me an excellent programme for the year ahead and there are some very exciting times to come.

“M-Sport provides one of the best environments for young drivers to learn and gain experience on their way to the top level. I’m really looking forward to working with this passionate team and to seeing for myself how the four-time World Champion, Sébastien Ogier, works.

“My goal for this season is to improve on last year when I finished second in the WRC 2 championship. I know that it will be a big challenge, but with more experience under my belt I feel ready and in a good position.

“M-Sport has a great history in rallying and many Finnish drivers have succeeded in Malcolm’s team. I hope, and believe, that I have a good chance of forming a part of this successful story.”

M-Sport Managing Director, Malcolm Wilson OBE, said:

“From as early as 2002, we have actively strived to create exciting opportunities for talented youngsters at all levels of the sport. This year, we will be fielding two cars in the WRC 2 category and I believe that we have two exceptionally strong candidates in both Éric and Teemu.

“Éric and Benjamin might be taking a step back this year, but it by no means undermines our faith in their potential. This year, Éric will be able to gain experience of as many events as possible without the pressures that come from competing at the highest level.

“Experience counts for a lot in this game and, if he can perform as we expect, it shouldn’t be too long before we see him back behind the wheel of a world rally car.

“It’s great to welcome Teemu and Mikko to the team. Teemu gained a lot of attention last year and there were a lot of people watching him in the WRC 2 championship. He’s a young guy with a lot of talent, and it’s great to have him behind the wheel of the Fiesta R5.

“We’ve had great success with Finns in the past, and Teemu could well form another chapter of that story. He’s ambitious, and determined, and I’m looking forward to seeing what he can deliver.”


WRC – Summary of regulation changes for 2017

January 9, 2017

Throughout the course of last year, the World Motor Sport Council approved a number of changes to the Sporting Regulations for the 2017 FIA World Rally Championship.

The main amendments are as follows:

Only drivers entered by registered manufacturers are eligible to drive 2017 World Rally Cars, with the approval of the FIA.

A manufacturer may nominate a minimum of two and maximum of three cars for the purpose of scoring points in the Manufacturers’ Championship. Scores from the two best cars in the final classification will amass points in this Championship. Additional cars may be entered by a manufacturer but will not be eligible to score points in the Manufacturers’ Championship.

To provide the opportunity for more drivers to be nominated, a manufacturer will not be required to nominate the first driver in its team. Nominations will however still be required by the closing date of entries for each event.

In the interest of fairness, the start order for World Championship rallies has been amended and is now based purely on performance:

Day 1: All cars start according to the actual Championship classification
Day 2: P1 drivers start in the reverse order of the actual rally classification after day 1. Other drivers start in the order of the rally classification
Day 3: P1 drivers start in the reverse order of the actual rally classification after day 2. Other drivers start in the order of the rally classification.
P1 drivers re-starting in Rally 2 will start at the end of the P1 group.

The number of additional points available in the Power Stage has been amended to reward the top five fastest drivers and co-drivers. Points will be awarded on a scale of 5, 4, 3, 2, 1.

Manufacturers are no longer required to nominate one tyre supplier for the season. As such, a different brand of tyres could be used event by event or on different cars within one team.

An FIA WRC Trophy has been created for drivers and co-drivers participating in pre-2017 specification World Rally Cars. The maximum number of qualifying rallies is seven and the driver and co-driver who have scored the highest total of points in six of the qualifying rallies will win the titles. If less than five competitors register, no titles will be awarded.

In order to be classified in the final classification at the end of the season, WRC 2 competitors must have taken part in the mandatory rallies in Portugal (19-21 May), Germany (18-20 August) and Great Britain (27-29 October). Except in force majeure, non-participation in any of these three events will result in exclusion from the respective support championship classification and points will not be redistributed.

M-Sport is the supplier of Fiesta R2 cars to the FIA Junior WRC Championship for 2017 and 2018. The six events in the 2017 calendar are the rallies in France, Italy, Poland, Finland, Germany and Spain.

Priority 1 status will be reserved for drivers of World Rally Cars either entered by a registered manufacturer or entered in the FIA WRC Trophy. Priority 2 will continue to be for drivers eligible to score points in the FIA WRC 2 Championship and Priority 3 for those in the WRC 3 and Junior WRC Championship categories.

There is no longer an obligation for organisers to have 25% of the route competitive. The total distance of special stages does however remain at between 300-500 kilometres.

In 2017, each rally organiser must attain the middle level of Environmental Accreditation – Progress Towards Excellence – before the end of the season. From 2018, the top level of accreditation – Achievement of Excellence – must be achieved at least four months before the event is scheduled to run.

In order to allow media activities, the reconnaissance must be finished before 17:00 hrs on the Wednesday. Between 17:00-20:00 hrs is reserved for FIA and team media activities.

The number of permitted chassis per manufacturer has been increased from six to nine and the number of test days from 42 to 55.

Should a rally not be able to run in its entirety, Championship points will be awarded based on the established classification. Full points will be awarded if more than 75% of the scheduled length of special stages has been run, half points if between 50% and 75%, and no points will be awarded if less than 50% is run. Points awarded for the Power Stage, if run, are not subject to this attribution of reduced points.


M-Sport reveal 2017 livery evolutions

December 25, 2016

M-Sport are proud to reveal the livery evolutions that will adorn the Ecoboost-powered Ford Fiesta WRCs throughout the 2017 FIA World Rally Championship. The final designs are due to be unveiled at the Autosport International Show in January.

For the first time since 2005, the team will field two separate designs for their lead drivers. Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia will sport an iconic Red Bull scheme while Ott Tänak and Martin Järveoja take to the wheel of a geometrically-inspired design which draws inspiration from the eye-catching ‘disguise’ livery.

Used throughout the Fiesta WRC’s intense test programme, the ‘disguise’ livery was originally created for the all-new road-going Fiesta which was unveiled in Cologne last month.

The development of the Ford Fiesta WRC has been aligned with that of Ford’s latest road car, and M-Sport’s debut at Rallye Monte-Carlo will also mark the introduction of the all-new Fiesta on public roads.

The geometric design forms the basis of both liveries, but for Ogier and Ingrassia, the number one Fiesta WRC is also adorned with the World Champion’s personal partner – Red Bull’s popular motif offering an instantly recognisable design.

The invaluable support that M-Sport continue to receive from Ford is well represented – the ‘Powered by Ecoboost’ trademark proudly displayed – as will long-standing partners Castrol and Michelin whose commitment has been paramount to the team’s success.

Both liveries carry the new-for-2017 MS-RT emblem which promotes an exciting collaboration with Van-Sport – producers of bespoke road-going vehicles with a stylish, sporting edge.

New partners also include online betting company OneBet – prominent logos appearing on both cars as the company takes a first venture into the high-octane sport of world rallying ahead of this exciting new era.

The team’s valued trade partners – Sparco, Pulsar, Stilo, Lazer Lamps, Azione, OZ Racing, NGK, Eibach, Endless and SWP – will be joined by LM Gianetti and will all feature in a series of prime positions on the Fiesta WRC’s striking new aero package.

M-Sport Managing Director, Malcolm Wilson OBE, said:

“We are immensely proud of the Ford Fiesta WRC and these eye-catching new liveries will add the finishing touch. The test livery captured everyone’s imagination so we were keen to incorporate this alongside our valued partners both old and new.

“We can’t wait to see both cars attack the stages of Rallye Monte-Carlo in their finalised designs. Until then, all that remains is to wish everyone a Merry Christmas and all the best for what looks set to be an exciting New Year which kicks-off with the final livery reveal at Autosport International.”