International Debut At British Show Reveals Ford RallyeConcept For Fiesta | Part Three

Competition-Defined Ergonomics

The cornerstone of the interior was the positioning of the driver and co-driver’s seats. The engineers drew the boundaries by establishing the optimum placement for the seats that would allow for the best weight distribution throughout the package.

Current Ford rally drivers were then enlisted to advise where everything else, including gear selector, switches and controls should fit around that base.

The driving position is different from that of a roadgoing Fiesta. The seating positions are further rearward and the steering wheel has longer reach.

The Fiesta design team’s dedicated ergonomist, Anna Humpherson, worked with rally drivers to optimise the position of the controls within the new interior.

"I rode with the rally drivers to understand the driving environment, and it was amazing to see how they operate," Humpherson said. "We spent a lot of time with them to prioritise the location of the switches and controls. Our mapping of the switch logic drove the location of the controls. Some are positioned toward the co-driver and some especially toward the driver, including four important controls, like the starter, which are located on the steering wheel itself."

Finally, with the seating and controls positioned, the interior design team set about the task of ensuring that functionality and style exist more harmoniously than is usual on such a project.

"We ‘picture framed’ each area of functionality within the car so that from any angle, and when taking any section in isolation, the inside of the car still pleases the eye in the same way as the road car it is derived from," Bury explained.

The distinctive arches of the instrument binnacle and dashboard mounted air vents remain in the concept but a sophisticated PI Research electronic display replaces the standard dials in front of the driver. The co-driver’s instrumentation is accommodated in lieu of the glove box and combines traditional time-keeping data with critical engine data.

Fiesta-style air vents have been added to the roof of the car, served by the large ‘scoop’ vent that brushes the upper edge of the windscreen.

Not even the floor escaped the eye of the Ford RallyeConcept team.

The designer-engineer collaboration team created special footwells to help the driver and co-driver achieve their optimal seating position for control despite the G-forces of competition. Specially moulded footwell units are installed for the driver – to ideally position the feet for pedal location – and for the co-driver – to position the feet to operate foot switches that control the instrumentation. The co-driver’s footwell also secures a handy battery-operated wheelnut-gun for quick tyre changes in the heat of a rally.

Engineering And Prove-Out

Ford RallyeConcept was developed within the framework of the FIA regulations for the Super 1600 class. Now that their vision for the vehicle has been established and shown for the first time in Birmingham, Ford RallyeSport will be undertaking an engineering development process to prepare for homologation of the concept as a Fiesta-based kit car.

"We’re excited by the potential of the Ford RallyeConcept and will be working hard to prove it out for a bright competition future while we also continue our World Rally Championship ambitions," Whitaker said. "As we work toward achieving FIA homologation by the summer of 2003, it won’t be long before we see this sporting Fiesta at speed on rally stages."

Published 22 October 2002 Melanie Carter
 
 

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