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Grizedale Stages Rally - 26-27 Nov 11

Posted: December 7, 2011 3:03 PM - 4369 Hits

Successful Debut for Barker and the Ford Fiesta MS1

Posted: December 7, 2011 3:03 PM

Last weekend saw the successful debut of the all-new Ford Fiesta MS1 as, piloted by the 2010 FST International Shootout winner Stephen Barker, Ford and M-Sport’s latest global rally car assumed the role of Course Car on the Coppermines Grizedale Stages Rally in South Cumbria.

Based in the Grizedale Forest, the 40 mile event also marked Barker’s competitive debut on British soil. Partnered by fellow M-Sport employee, Richard Millener, the duo successfully navigated the tricky stages to secure an unofficial time which would have placed them inside the top 15 as the 4th 2WD car overall - a huge achievement for Barker and the MS1 alike.

Following hot on the heels of the highly successful Ford Fiesta R2, the MS1 is aimed at those drivers who are just starting out on their rallying career; offering individuals an introduction to rallying at an affordable level.

Homologated to R1 specification, the basic conversion kit offers all the same personal safety and underbody protection as the Fiesta R2, but with standard engine and transmission components to comply with International R1 regulations. The various MS1 kits on offer provide competitors with the option of upgrading their Fiesta, piece by piece, adding performance enhancements as local regulations allow, so as to eventually graduate to the Fiesta R2.

The latest in a long line of rally cars produced as a result of the successful partnership between Ford and M-Sport, the MS1 has been developed with all the same expertise which launched the record-breaking Ford Focus RS WRC, the Ford Fiesta GpN ST, the Ford Fiesta R2 and S2000 and, more recently, the ground-braking Ford Fiesta RRC and RS WRC.

In turn, the arrival of the MS1 means that together, Ford and M-Sport can offer a complete ‘Ladder of Opportunity’ through which competitors might graduate from national level right through to the top epsilons of the WRC.

Prior to the Grizedale Stages, Barker put the MS1 through a series of vigorous tests at Carlisle Airfield and M-Sport’s own testing complex at Greystoke Forest. Focusing on refining the new Bilstein dampers along with developing the latest specification engine maps, Barker has covered more than 240kms of testing with the new Fiesta in recent weeks.

The rally itself was contested over seven stages, one in the darkness of Saturday night, which was also affected by patchy fog, and a further six on Sunday. Despite running as Course Car, Barker set out with a clear objective: to gain an indication of his pace on gravel compared to some of the 2011 Fiesta SportTrophy UK competitors in preparation for a potential assault on the 2012 British Rally Championship [BRC].

“It’s great get back behind the wheel of a rally car,” said Barker after the event. “Our aim was to get the car to the finish. I didn’t push hard and came back surprisingly happy with the times we were setting when compared to others in similarly powered machinery. The MS1 is a great little package and will offer all young and aspiring drivers a great base level entry car to hone their driving skills”

Navigator, Millener said
“I wanted to do this event for two reason: one, to sit with Stephen to see if we worked well together as we would both like to be back in the BRC next season; and secondly, to experience the new MS1. In my role at M-Sport I deal with a lot of our customers and it is always good to experience the product first hand so that when we are in discussions, I know exactly what the product is and what it can offer. I have now sat in an MS1, R2, S2000 and RRC so I know all the ‘rungs’ to our ’Ladder of Opportunity’, and I can honestly say the MS1 is a superb entry-level package to start off any new driver’s career.”

Grizedale Gremlins Thwart Bird

Posted: December 6, 2011 2:35 PM

After winning the event the last time it was run in 2009, Penrith rally driver Paul Bird's hopes of getting his hands on the winner's trophy once again were dashed following a puncture and subsequent visit to a ditch in this weekend's Coniston-based Coppermines Grizedale Stages Rally, held in his native Lake District.

Driving the Fuchs Titan, Rapid Solicitors, Vent Axia and Kick Energy-backed FBP Ford Focus WRC07 for the first time on gravel in seven months, Bird and Scottish co driver Kirsty Riddick were well in contention holding third overnight following a steady run through the opening seven mile stage on Saturday evening before a concerted effort was planned for today.

All was going well when the British Superbike team boss stopped the clocks second fastest on SS2 behind eventual winners David Wright and Michael Wilkinson (Mitsubishi) but it was on the third test that the Cumbrian hit trouble when a puncture early on saw him then slide into a ditch and lose over four minutes in the process.

With any hopes of repeating his victory of 2009 (the 2010 event was snowed off), Bird attacked the remaining four stages and set fastest time on each of them to elevate himself up to sixth place at the finish, taking the WRC honours in the process.

"Whilst I'm obviously disappointed not to win, I'm pleased with the way I drove, especially as not having driven on gravel time since the Somerset Stages back in April. It felt good, the stages were great and well done to David on the win, he drove really well but I think it would have been very close if neither of us had encountered our respective problems. I was using Pirelli tyres for the first time in four years and it took me a while to get used to them, plus the puncture was my fault, and in the end we were fastest on every remaining stage. We could have just gone home but we decided it was valuable testing time for us," said Bird.

Bird will next be in action on the Jack Frost Stages Rally, which takes place on Sunday January 22nd 2012 at Croft Circuit, where he is looking to clinch a record-breaking fourth win on the Darlington and District Motor Club event.

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Topics: Grizedale stages 

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