Ford's factory World Rally Championship outfit M-Sport is building a new Fiesta R5 rally car, AUTOSPORT can reveal.
Malcolm Wilson's Cumbrian firm, which builds the Ford World Rally Team's factory Fiesta RS WRCs, started work in March on the 1.6-litre, turbocharged, four-wheel drive rally car, which is aimed at domestic and regional championships.
The car, built to regulations that are expected to replace Super 2000 in the future, will be seen in action for the first time early next year.
The R5 formula has struck a chord with plenty of manufacturers, with Peugeot revealing a car in Paris later this month and Citroen and Skoda also believed to be working on a similar specification machine.
While there has been no official confirmation of the M-Sport car, a source told AUTOSPORT: ""The R5 car is coming and it's looking like it'll become the natural successor to our Super 2000 car in time. It's very exciting to be building a new car."
While the R5 will use the same basic shell as the Fiesta RS WRC, the Regional Rally Car and the Super 2000 car, there will be subtle differences to the outside of the machine - it won''t run the same aero package as the WRC car, for example.
The engine will run with a 32mm restrictor, meaning more power than the RRC, which features a 30mm restrictor, but the engine itself will be designed with longevity in mind.
The uprights will be another area where costs will be trimmed to help reach the target the R5 being around half the price of the Fiesta WRC. R5 regulations stipulate that each of the car's four corners must be interchangeable, meaning the same upright set-up all around.
"If you look at the upright from a WRC or a RRC, you will see there's a great intricacy in their design which offers exceptional performance," the source added.
"The upright on the R5 car will perform the same function, but without the complexity. It's the same with the gearbox: the R5 will run a sequential five-speed unit. We're going this way to use wider gears which can be made stronger.
"The idea is that this car can be taken away to Peru, South Africa, Australia, anywhere and just driven without the need for an engineer."