The Ford RallyeConcept, explores the inherent competitive spirit of the new 3-door Fiesta. Its appearance at the Birmingham International Motor Show signals Ford's intent to have a Fiesta-based rally car ready for competition within a year.
Ford RallyeConcept has been realised through an intensely close collaboration between Ford RallyeSport, the motorsport experts behind the Puma Super1600 and the Focus WRC rally cars, and Ford Design Europe, the creative team responsible for the new three-door Fiesta on which the RallyeConcept is based.
"This project represents a fundamental change in how we approach motorsport vehicles," said Chris Bird, Ford of Europe Design Director. "This collaboration has unleashed tremendous energy, demonstrating what we can achieve by working closely together with the motorsport engineering team to make competition vehicles a natural extension of the product range. The Ford RallyeConcept shows that a performance vehicle can be both uncompromising and clearly coherent with the original design."
Engineering Validation Next
Ford RallyeConcept’s marriage of the motorsport engineer’s objective for performance functionality with the eye for detail of the designer has been so effective that Ford has committed to an engineering development programme to bring a Fiesta-based rally car to reality. Aiming for FIA homologation by the summer of 2003, Ford RallyeSport is hoping that it will become Ford’s next success story in national and international rallying.
As with the development of any car destined for competition use, the key to its success will be in its performance, but within this framework Bird’s team of designers and the Ford RallyeSport team have created a car that is visually stimulating and entirely functional but is still faithful to the design thinking of the production vehicle.
Design With Credibility
Featuring extensive use of production-quality exterior accents and superbly executed interior features designed especially for the driver and co-driver, the Ford RallyeConcept is not simply a design exercise. Its capabilities are clearly visible evidence that the "need for speed" need not translate to design compromise.
Powered by a high-performance version of Fiesta’s 1.6-litre Duratec 16V engine and fitted with a full range of rally safety equipment – including an integral roll cage, competition harnesses, Sparco racing seats and the mandatory built-in fire- extinguishing system – the Ford RallyeConcept still retains clear links to its road-car counterpart.
"Motorsport is integral to the character of the blue oval and its brands," said Martin Whitaker, Ford’s Director of European Motorsport. "This project has demonstrated that competition applications are not an afterthought, but an important facet of the product plan from the beginning. That brand message is why design consistency is so crucial."