Archive for category Racing

My Auto Import Center Autocross Review

Saturday marked the first autocross for my new 2011 Ford Fiesta with an event presented by the Furrin Group at My Auto Import Center in Muskegon Michigan. The event is run annually on the third weekend of September, and the course is the same each year. That is a huge help for me, since most Furrin autocrosses end with me spending most of my runs being lost in a sea of cones. There was something that made this event different for me, and that was the wet weather.

I woke to a decent thunderstorm Saturday morning that lasted until around 9:00 am, and light rain that continued off and on thru the morning. I arrived at the course around 10am for car prep and to walk the course. The run order dictated that my group, ST, would be running in the first heat when the track would be the dampest. My first run was very slow as I tried to remember the course and get a feel for how much or little traction was out there. The second run was much faster, but suffered wheel spin at most corners since it was still wet. By my third run, the course had a defined dry line with only a few corners being wet. If I had a shot at a good time, this would be it.

I got the ok to launch from the starter, and brought the engine revs up to where I thought would be a good spot. Sadly, I had the revs too high, and the car suffered horrible wheel hop before the traction control took over and reduced power. I regained traction and shifted quickly into second, which broke traction again causing some slight gearbox noise and the reactivation of the traction control system. Power was again cut going to the front wheels as I entered the slalom. Going around the tight sweeper, which was still very wet, the tires broke loose at exit onto the back straight. Each time the car lost traction, the computer cuts engine power until traction is restored. The actual straight was dry, so the computer let me use the engine to head towards the Chicago Box. The braking zone was wet, and the ABS activated for a split second, which it had earlier going into the back sweeper. After the Chicago Box came the front sweeper and I had decent traction going around that which leads into the small straight against the dealer’s service department. There is a slight bump leading onto the straight, that usually sends my Mustang into a spin, but the Fiesta felt well planted. I then entered the back sweeper again, but from the opposite side as the first run and suffered again from traction loss at exit. One last time on the short back straight before a chicane lead me towards the timing lights. Overall, a clean run, but with a horrible launch. The last run would have to be perfect to make up for the bad launch on my third run.

The Fiesta was a few cars away from launching on the final run when the sky opened up with a rain shower. The course was soaked and the dry line had vanished. Puddles were forming in the braking zones and at the back sweeper. I ran the Fiesta as hard as I could in those conditions, but the traction control would just stop the engine whenever wheel spin was detected. The launch was good, but I was bleeding time around the sweepers due the loss of traction and the activation of the wheel spin nanny. I tried too hard to make up time on the straights by braking as late as possible, but I just about lost control going into the chicane before the timing lights. I was on the brakes too late and too hard going into the chicane, and the rear stepped out. The ESC activated and kept me from taking out the timing lights. Thanks computer, I needed you on that one.

As it turned out, my third run was my fastest, even with the poor launch. The Fiesta handled very well and was easy to drive on course. Being able to turn off the traction control would have probably helped since I would have not suffered the loss of engine power at the corner exit. It is easier to deal with wheel spin using the throttle than having the computer do it. The computer just pulls too much power in hopes of gaining traction, which left me with my foot planted at the exit of a corner and zero response from the engine. I took forth with a Honda Prelude 4-wheel-steering taking first. Second place went to a 1997 Probe GT, and third a Focus ZX3. Only 2.1 seconds separated all 4 cars, and I had the least amount of power by a decent margin. The heavy 17” wheels slowed the Fiesta down and were the reason why I was placed in ST instead of HS. Considering having the least powerful car in the class, and a traction control system that can’t be turned off, I was very happy with how the Fiesta did compared to the other cars in its class. Next season will bring a more powerful Fiesta, along with a return of the CP Mustang. It should be an exciting 2011 season!

Final Results

1T ST 94 Zac M 94 Honda Prelude SI 4WS 56.472+DNF 50.509 49.898+DNF 50.637 50.509 -
2T ST 85 Thomas F 97 Ford Probe GT 56.555 51.060 48.867+1 50.884 50.867 0.358
3 ST 26 Brett R 03 Ford Focus 51.016 50.959+1 49.481+1 49.931+1 51.016 0.149
4 ST 07 Bryan R 11 Ford Fiesta 59.638 53.200 52.636 52.817 52.636 1.620
5 ST 47 William G Saab 900s 62.724+DNF 58.551 56.604 56.267 56.267 3.631

2011 Ford Fiesta Gallery

My Auto Import Center Autocross Gallery

, , ,

1 Comment

Fiesta Track Analysis

 

            Thursday April 30th, 2010 saw the last outing for the Fiesta at GingerMan Raceway in South Haven Michigan. The 2 mile, 11 turn complex is where I have been running my cars since 1997. Knowing that the Fiesta would be going back to Ford within the next few days, I drove the car a little harder than normal. The result was the car performing even better than it did last summer when I ran more reserved.

            The only change I made to the Fiesta for this session was to adjust the tire pressures to what I thought they should be. Last July, I ran pressures based on Mission Control’s cold PSI recommendation of 42 psi. Adjusting for a hot target of 42 psi on all corners made the car feel less connected to the track. The traction control was very active with trying to control wheel spin, and after a few laps, the tires became too greasy to continue. I decided for this attempt I would set the pressures to 37 psi hot for the fronts, and 42 psi hot rear. Lowering the fronts reduced the tendency to understeer since I effectively lowered the wheel rate. Keeping the rears at 42 psi hot allowed for more oversteer since the wheel rate was increased. The result was a car than handled considerably better and I was able to run 9/10ths for an entire 20 minute session. From a driving standpoint, I changed my braking habits as I was getting brake fade last summer. I focused on going deeper into the corner, braking harder, but staying on the pedal less. This would allow for maximum cooling times between corners.

            Session 1

            I ended up gridding first, which meant the entire field was behind me at the start. There was a large group of vintage racers who where there to practice, and I really did not want to hold them up. Our group was for everything under 2.0L of displacement and a roof. After the first warm up lap, I let the field go by on the back straight so the racers could practice without traffic. That left a newer VW Golf GTi and a Civic Si for me to run with. The GTi was actually faster than all the racecars and lead the session. The Civic Si was at the back of the racers, so I ran with him. For 20 minutes, I was able to keep a constant distance behind the Civic. He was faster on the long straights, but I would catch him thru the slower corners. I adjusted my driving style to be more aggressive with my braking and turn-in. Instead of staying away from the curbs and rumble strips, I was aiming for each of them. I braked much later and was on the throttle much sooner than normal. Under hard braking I would get ABS engagement just as I was beginning to let off for trail braking. At mid corner on the longer sweepers or the 5-6 complex, I would lift throttle or touch the brake with my left foot to encourage rotation.  Turns 3, 10, and 11 are possible places to use 2nd, but I kept it in 3rd and that slowed my lap times. The traction control may have come on in 2nd around those corners, which would be worse than leaving the car in 3rd and exiting at a lower RPM.

            The traction control and stability control was much less active for this session, which I think was due to the tire pressure changes. The high speed esses of 8-10 would cause the stability control to engage, but it was not overly obtrusive. Since the system was there, I decided to exploit it by running more aggressive and just let the computer keep the car under control. Traction Control engaged only a few times, and mostly at corner exit when the track was bumpy. The tires kept their grip for the entire session and I felt no need to let them cool down mid session and take a few laps slower. I kept the car running hard for the entire session. Brake fade was present, but not bad. The pads seemed to fade to a point and stayed there for the session. My Mustang requires me to run a few laps at 8/10th and then a few laps at half speed to let the brakes and tires recover. The Fiesta needed no recovery time, it just begged to go faster. At the end of the 20 minute session, I was still behind the Civic Si. I was not fast enough to pass, but was able to keep a good distance. Besides, it is way more fun to chase than to be chased.

            Session 2

            The final session was cut short after a Mustang in the previous group suffered a mechanical failure and was stranded on track. Finally the car was removed and we could go out. The Civic and GTi were not on course, so it was the Fiesta and a collection of vintage race cars. I let the faster racers go by on the back straight, but did find one vintage race car that I could chase. The Fiesta was faster, and I would let off the throttle and coast down the straights so I did not have to pass him. I wanted to focus on my ability to follow closely to another car during the corners. The vintage car had more lateral grip thanks to slicks, but suffered down the straights. The session was cut short by diminishing sun light and only lasted about 10 minutes. I enjoyed chasing after the vintage racer, even if it meant slower lap times. I watched his line thru the course and tried to follow his or use my normal line to see where we ended up. The Fiesta is easy to drive at speed, and that allowed me to focus more on the correct line and braking points rather than fighting for car control.

            Final thoughts

            So many reviewers say the Fiesta needs more power. After running multiple sessions on a race track, I don’t think it needs more power. The car is perfectly balanced the way it is. More power means faster speeds, which means you need bigger brakes to slow down, which is more weight, and then you need a beefier suspension. It becomes an endless circle of change to get back to the car being balanced. The Fiesta is the perfect balance of power, gearing, braking, tire selection, and driver feedback. With less power, the driver can focus more on momentum and following the proper line. Lower lap times with the Fiesta are a result of being smooth and accurate with your driving. A high powered car can use brute force to make up for poor handling or car control. My Mustang is blistering fast on the straight, but suffers everywhere else. The Fiesta may suffer on the straights, but is a blast to drive thru the turns. The steering is deadly accurate as well. I could pick a spot at the apex I wanted to hit, and I had no problem putting the car on that spot. Braking was well controlled, and fade was minimal. Leaving the car in 3rd and 4th eliminated the issue of the sloppy gear lever and I did not worry about going from 2nd to 1st or 5th instead of 3rd. With the pressure changes the tires performed much better and I had little sidewall rollover. Traction Control was less obtrusive with the lower front pressures, and the stability control wasn’t fighting understeer with the adjusted pressures. Overall, the Fiesta has proven itself to be a worthy track car, an outstanding daily driver, a predictable winter traveler, and does it all at a fraction of the cost of most cars.

No Comments

MONSTER WORLD RALLY TEAM

CONTACT: Brian Scotto Marketing Director Monster World Rally Team brian@monsterworldrallyteam.com

KEN BLOCK AND ALEX GELSOMINO IMPRESS ON THEIR WRC DEBUT AT RALLY MEXICO

March 24th, 2010, Brooklyn, NY- When Ken Block threw his flat-brimmed hat into the World Rally Championship ring earlier this year, expectations were mixed. But three weeks ago, at Rally Mexico-Monster World Rally Teamʼs inaugural WRC race-Ken Block and Alex Gelsomino proved that they have what it takes to become a competitive force on the world stage.

“We even surprised ourselves, when, after the first few stages, we were not only not dead last, but we were keeping pace with a few veteran WRC drivers, and even ahead of F1 World Champion Kimi Räikkönen,” says Ken Block.

By the end of the first leg, on Friday, Block and Gelsomino had secured a position on the leaderboard for the American flag to fly. Unfortunately, an off on the first stage of Day 2, left the Monster Energy Ford Focus RS WRC unable to continue. “It was a rookie mistake,” says Block. “We should have noted the change in surface, the section went from a grippy dirt road to very loose gravel and there was just no traction at all, especially for the speed we were trying to carry into the next turn.”

Thanks to SuperRally rules, which allow competitors to return to the stages the following day along with some heavy time penalties, Block and Gelsomino were at it again on Sunday morning. The two put on a repeat performance of Day 1, finishing stage 19, eighth fastest, with a 13.7 second gap between them and ninth place. Then, on stage 21, the Monster World Rally Team shocked naysayers once more, being second fastest on the road after the first split. But, a puncture caused by an unfortunate meeting of rim and rock later on this stage, robbed Block and Gelsomino of over a minute.

“In the WRC, we had heard of Ken Block, but more for his stunts than his driving, but after his performance in Mexico, I think it is very clear to everyone that he has the potential to become a competitive WRC driver,” says M-Sport Managing Director Malcolm Wilson. “For his first WRC event, he did extremely well.”

“Ken is shining a bright light on what we at Ford have always known…that Ford makes the best fun-to-drive small cars in the world,” says Ford Racing Director Jamie Allison. “Ken’s rally efforts globally with Fiesta and Focus help us to tell that story to a new generation of car enthusiasts and it’s great to see Ken, as the lone American, competing at the highest level in WRC and showcasing his great rally talent. All of which will help expand the appeal of the sport in the U.S.”

The next WRC round for MWRT will be Rally Turkey, on April 16-18. Until then, follow the team at monsterworldrallyteam.com

For official television coverage of the 2010 World Rally Championship in the U.S. tune into HD Theater (Check local listings for repeat broadcasts of the Rally Mexico Event Highlights this week).

About Ken Block

Ken Blockʼs rally career began in 2005. His skill and car control became quickly apparent and Block aptly nabbed Rookie of the Year in the Rally America Championship. Since then, Block has continued to race in the series, boasting a healthy number of podium appearances, as well as X Games medals. In addition to his performance in the car, Block has been a driving force in shedding light on the sport within the United States. Block co-founded DC Shoes, a worldwide leader in performance skateboarding shoes and a renowned action sports brand. His keen branding and marketing acumen not only elevated DC to their current eminent status, but has allowed Block to achieve global fame as a national rally driver through his wildly successful viral video campaigns. Ad Age named his “Gymkhana TWO” the No. 4 Viral Video of 2009. In January 2010, Block signed with Ford Motor Company to campaign both the Rally America series and the World Rally Championship, being the first American to do so.

About Monster World Rally Team: Created and assembled by Ken Block, the object of the Monster World Rally Team is to redefine the race-team archetype. The team is driven not only to win, but to also market motorsport through innovative, creative and interactive ways. The goal: To become the best- known team in the WRC and bring rally to the masses along the way. The team is supported by Monster Energy, Ford Motor Company, DC Shoes, Castrol Edge, Pirelli Tires and the Dirt2 videogame. monsterworldrallyteam.com

, , , , ,

No Comments

M-Sport’s Ford Fiesta S2000 on song in Sweden

Written by M-Sport 

Rally Sweden proved to be another highly successful event for M-Sport’s new Ford Fiesta S2000 as three finished in the top four places of the S-WRC category and the car scored an overall WRC stage win for the first time.

 

Four of the new generation rally cars were in action at the opening round of the FIA World Rally Championship.  Bernardo Sousa and Andreas Mikkelsen entered with Fiestas prepared by M-Sport, while Martin Prokop and Janne Tuohino were run by their own private teams.

 

Sousa, Prokop and Tuohino were all registered to score points in the new S-WRC category for S2000 specification cars, and with the new car having taken victory in its competitive debut in Monte Carlo and Qatar, plus ex-Ford WRC driver Marcus Grönholm having completed 230km of set-up in the Fiesta prior to Sweden, all were confident of putting in a strong performance on the snow-bound stages.

 

Day one saw the Fiesta S2000s fighting at the front of the S-WRC category.  Janne Tuohino was chasing the early leader P-G Andersson from the off, but was trying to measure his driving rather than going flat out and risking a mistake.  Andreas Mikkelsen followed closely behind Tuohino and looked strong throughout the day.  Reigning Junior World Rally Champion Prokop was around 20seconds further back after a relatively incident-free drive, but Sousa didn’t have it all his own way after hitting a snow bank and losing his light pod.

 

The second day of the event was action-packed.  Mikkelsen started to get to grips with the conditions and mounted a charge on the first stage of the day that saw him overhaul Tuohino to go second of the S2000 cars in the overall standings.  Prokop continued steadily throughout the day but then put a real marker down as he recorded the fastest time on the short SS16 Hagfors Sprint – beating every other car in the field to take an overall stage win and a create a new first for both the S2000 class and the Ford Fiesta S2000.  In another stunning performance Sousa recorded the second-fastest time on the same stage, while Tuohino was fourth and Mikkelsen eighth.  That meant four Fiesta S2000s in the top eight overall stage times, a fantastic effort against the more powerful WRC-spec cars.

 

On the final day of the rally all of the Fiesta S2000 drivers reported themselves happy with the way the car was performing and continued to enjoy a smooth run towards the finish.  Andreas Mikkelsen hit a blip when a cable that helps to select reverse gear came loose after SS18 Varmullsasen and he was late leaving service, costing him a ten-second penalty.  However, the rest of the Fiesta S2000 crews enjoyed a smooth final loop of stages to bring home a clutch of outstanding results from the supremely tough Rally Sweden.

 

Andreas Mikkelsen said:

“It has gone very well.  We only had a short test before the rally so everything still felt new when we started and we had to learn as we went along.  It felt good all the way though, and there was a lot more grip than I expected in these conditions.  The tyres did a very good job and we didn’t lose many studs.  The rally was difficult but everything went fine for us.  I think the season ahead will be very good for us in this car.”

 

Janne Tuohino said:

“The stages were hard because the first loop was always nice but the second was very hard on the tyres.  The car has been very strong but maybe we need a little more time to learn how to use it better.  We lost too much time on Friday so since then it has really been focusing on developing our feeling with the car.  In a few more events we will be very fast.”

 

Martin Prokop said:

“This rally has been nearly perfect, we have had no problems at all.  The car was really special all the way.  We didn’t do anything special in terms of our driving so to get the stage win on Saturday was great.  It was hard to fight with the others in front because they have a better understanding of these conditions.  The rest of the year we will be more confident back on gravel and it is a big opportunity for us to do something really good.”

 

Bernardo Sousa said:

“It’s been an unbelievable event for me.  I don’t have much experience of winter rallies but I have really enjoyed every minute.  It’s always so different driving in these conditions.  The only problem we had was a small thing with the intercom on the last day, everything else was great.  The pace of the competition was very high, which is good, but we know we are here to pick up experience and would not really be able to fight to win.  On the gravel and tarmac events I think we can go really well this season in this car.”

 

M-Sport Managing Director Malcolm Wilson said:

“I’m delighted with the Fiesta S2000’s WRC debut.  At some point every Fiesta driver has put in a great performance and to achieve a fastest overall stage time on its debut was just remarkable.  All four Ford Fiesta crews have had no major problems and it demonstrates that we found both the performance and reliability with this new car.  Andreas drove very well and it was great to see Janne Tuohino top of the registered SWRC crews in his Fiesta.”

 

Final SWRC Result

1. P-G Andersson/A Fredriksson      SWE             Skoda Fabia S2000   3h21m39.3sec

2. J Tuohino/M Tuohino                FIN              Ford Fiesta S2000     +57.3sec

3. M Prokop/J Tomanek               CZ                Ford Fiesta S2000     +2m56.4sec

4. P Sandell/E Axelsson                 SWE             Skoda Fabia S2000   +4m40.1sec

5. E Brynildsen/C Menkerud           NOR             Skoda Fabia S2000   +4m58.0sec

6. B Sousa/N Rodrigues                P                  Ford Fiesta S2000     +7m15.6sec

7. P Saav/K Lexe                         SWE             Skoda Fabia S2000   +17m49.4sec

 

FIA SWRC driver standings

1. P-G Andersson – 25         2. J Tuohino – 18     3. M Prokop – 15     4. P Sandell – 12  

5. E Brynildsen – 10            6. B Sousa – 8         7. P Saav – 6

,

No Comments

M-Sport’s Ford Fiesta S2000 Set for WRC Debut in Sweden

M-Sport’s Ford Fiesta S2000 Set for WRC Debut in Sweden

 

M-Sport’s new Ford Fiesta S2000 will make its first appearance in the FIA World Rally Championship at Rally Sweden next weekend.

 

The latest rally car developed by M-Sport, in conjunction with Ford, made a hugely successful competitive debut when it recently took wins in other championships at Monte Carlo and Qatar in the hands of Ford’s WRC driver Mikko Hirvonen and  former Middle East Rally Champion  Nasser Al-Attiyah respectively.

 

Four Fiesta S2000s will now fly the flag for M-Sport in the World Rally Championship when Rally Sweden begins next Thursday.

 

Bernardo Sousa and Andreas Mikkelsen will enter the opening round of the 2010 season with Fiestas prepared by M-Sport, while Martin Prokop and Janne Tuohino will be run by their own private teams.  Sousa, Prokop and Tuohino will be registered to score points in the new S-WRC category for S2000 specification cars.

 

All four drivers chances of mounting a strong challenge in Sweden will be boosted thanks to help from former double-world champion and ex-Ford WRC driver Marcus Grönholm.

 

The Finn completed 230km of testing and set-up work in the Fiesta S2000 in Kall, Sweden, to help M-Sport find the optimum settings for the car in the extreme winter conditions expected at Rally Sweden.

 

M-Sport will make the knowledge gleaned from the test available to its drivers in order to give them the best possible opportunity to produce a good result on the snow-bound Swedish stages.  The quartet of Fiesta drivers will have the chance to further fine-tune their preparations when they take part in their own pre-event tests.

 

The new S-WRC category has already proven popular among competitors, with a mix of experienced crews and exciting new talent signing up to take part in the series for 2010.

 

M-Sport will look to build on the momentum taken from the wins in Monte Carlo and Qatar and see the new Fiesta S2000 prove to be an equally formidable package in the S-WRC.

 

M-Sport Managing Director Malcolm Wilson said:

“After two incredible victories in Monte Carlo and Qatar, we are now going to another extreme of conditions at Rally Sweden.  We are confident that the car can maintain its performance and we’ve been boosted by the fact that Marcus Grönholm has been helping out with the testing; he’s come up with a really good base setting for Sweden.  The M-Sport drivers will all have access to the information and it’s all part of the service to try and give our customers the best possible support.  We’ve had a great season launch in Paris this week and the S-WRC has certainly got the potential to be a very exciting championship; there’s lots of young drivers signed up and it will really spice things up.”

 

Former Ford WRC driver Marcus Grönholm said:

“The Ford Fiesta was very nice to drive and I was impressed by the road-holding, it was really perfect.  The engine felt very strong and you really get the feeling that this is a proper rally car to drive.  It brings back the excitement as you have to be aggressive and drive at the correct revs.  I was impressed at how the rear holds nicely on the road and overall the whole package is very good indeed.”

 

Ford Fiesta S2000 driver Bernardo Sousa said:

“Although I competed in this rally in 2008, I don’t have a lot of experience of snowy conditions.  This will be a challenging rally, it’s the start of a brand new championship for everyone and I will need to see what the pace is like.  This year I have, I believe, the best car and the best team so now I need to be clever and just takes things step by step.  I’m really looking forward to this year, the championship will be very exciting and there will be lots of competition; any one of five drivers could easily win the rally in Sweden.”

 

Ford Fiesta S2000 driver Andreas Mikkelsen said:

It’s a great opportunity for me to drive the new Ford Fiesta S2000 in Rally Sweden. This is a rally I really like, and I have good memories from Sweden back in 2008 when I was fifth overall in a Ford Focus RS WRC. The conditions are very similar to what we have in Norway, and we have done four winter rallies in Norway before we go to Sweden; I think myself and my co-driver Ola Floene are well prepared. With the good performance Mikko Hirvonen showed with the Fiesta S2000 in Rally Monte Carlo and with the M-Sport team behind me, my goal is to fight for the win in the S2000 class in Sweden. It would be great for me to give Ford and M-Sport a win in the world rally debut for the new Fiesta S2000.”

 

Ends

 

Notes to editors:

Further information about the Ford Fiesta S2000 rally car and copyright-free high-resolution images can be found at www.fiestaS2000.com . Images of Bernardo Sousa’s Ford Fiesta S2000 are available on this website.

 

For further information please contact:

Media Contact: Glenn Patterson (t) +447920 548976, (e) glenn@the-inside-line.co.uk

Project Contact: Andrew Wheatley, (t) +441900 828888, (e) awheatley@m-sport.co.uk

1 Comment

Racetech Sno*Drift Review

by Bryan Redeker

Photo’s by Brandon Redeker

2010 Sno*Drift Rally

2010 Sno*Drift Rally

Racetech Performance spent the weekend in Atlanta Michigan to watch the Rally America 2010 season opener, the famous Sno*Drift Rally. The team drove the 2010 Ford Fiesta about 4 hours north to spend Friday night in Gaylord Michigan. Once we got the hotel, our phones starting buzzing with updates from SS7 saying the Monster World Rally Team Ford Fiesta had suffered a suspension failure, and was done for the event. Our main reason for going to the event was now over, and we would not be able to see the Ford Fiesta compete in a rally. The rest of the night would be spent with friends, drinking beers, and talking about cars. Outside our hotel room, the sounds of snowmobiles and boxer-engined Subaru’s could be heard while we sat around and talked cars. Every few minutes we could hear people stopping and talking about the Fiesta that was parked on the other side of our hotel room door. Comments could be heard until around 2:30 am from people interested in the car.

Saturday morning started at 4:45am as we got ready and headed into Atlanta to see the rally cars in Parc Expose’. The frigid cold did not stop an army of fans who swarmed the Subaru of Travis Pastrana. There was talk everywhere about where Block was, and how nobody could find the Fiesta rally car. Most fans were probably unaware of the late night suspension failure that took him out of the event. Besides the Fiesta I was driving and one Raptor truck, finding a Ford oval was rare in the sea of spectator Subaru’s. We made it over to talk to Andrew Frick, who was piloting the blue Ford Focus, and checked out the Terra Firma sponsored Focus driven by Dillon Van Way. With the Fiesta retired, we would be cheering for the remaining Fords in the event.

We continued on to the first spectator stage, where the Fiesta had a chance to navigate down a very icy, twisty, tree-lined two track road. I would have to say that the highpoint of the event was driving the Fiesta down and back from that stage. If I could have turned off the electronic babysitter (traction and stability control) the Fiesta would have been even more fun to drive! The computer was fighting me for control around corners, and did not understand my use of the handbrake. At the spectator stage, we were bombarded with questions concerning the Fiesta I was driving, and what had happened to Ken Block’s Fiesta. Regardless of where we went on Saturday, a crowd of people were always around the Fiesta asking questions and taking pictures. I had way more people asking about the car than at any car show I went to last year.

After the Super Special Stages, the team had decided that it was getting late and we should make our way back home. A quick stop in for dinner in Gaylord, and then we were off heading south. I let my friend Erik Barber take the pilot seat in the Fiesta for the way home so he could get some seat time. I watched over Twitter on my phone and updated the team on the results of the closing stages of the rally. While the Subaru team was spraying Champaign, the MWRT Fiesta was back in Dearborn and the Fiesta I was driving was heading home. Hopefully next year we will stay for the Champaign celebration, and it will be a Fiesta parked in P1.

Click on the image above to open the photo gallery.

2 Comments

M-Sport’s Ford Fiesta S2000 picks up 2 wins in 24 hours!

 

What an amazing weekend for the Fiesta! I had been following the timing and scoring for the IRC Monte Carlo Rally on the computer for a few days. Each stage was watched online as I waited eagerly to find out where the Fiesta placed. At the end of the day on Friday, Mikko Hirvonen and Jarmo Lehtinen finished the rally in first place. On its very first competitive outing, the Fiesta S2000 picked up a victory. The second win would come just a day later in Qatar with another Fiesta S2000 driven by Nasser Al Attiyah. This coming weekend could see another win for the Fiesta, as Ken Block debuts the Monster Rally Team Ford Fiesta in the Rally America series. Racetech will be on hand for the Sno*Drift rally, and will have a full report when we get back. Until then, enjoy the official press release from M-Sport.

 

Dream Debut for M-Sport’s Ford Fiesta S2000 on Tarmac and Gravel

 

M-Sport, the Cumbrian based team behind the development of the Ford Fiesta S2000 rally car, were today celebrating a dream debut which saw the car take international victories on two continents within 24 hours to cement a unique international debut for the recently launched vehicle.

 

Victory for Mikko Hirvonen and Jarmo Lehtinen on the historic Monte Carlo Rally was supported by victory on the Q-Tel Qatar Rally by Nasser Al Attiyah and his Italian co-driver Giovanni Bernacchini in an Autotek supported version of the newly released car.

 

Only homologated by the FIA on 15th January 2010, the Ford Fiesta S2000, developed by M-Sport’s technical team under the direction of Christian Loriaux, took back-to-back victories in what can arguably be described as two of the toughest tarmac and gravel events in the international calendar.

 

M-Sport Managing Director Malcolm Wilson OBE was keen to point out the contribution made by all of the team towards this historic success: “This really is a perfect debut for the Fiesta S2000.  The performance of the car on both the demanding stages of the Monte and the incredibly rough stages in Qatar has proven the exciting potential of the car in all conditions. The results are a just-reward for the hard work and dedication that has been shown by everyone involved in the development of the car. Our technical partners have excelled and the fantastic team effort that has seen all the departments at M-Sport pull out all the stops to get these cars to the start-line under difficult conditions must be applauded.”

 

This weekend’s result is just the tip of the iceberg for the Ford Fiesta S2000 rally car as M-Sport now begin the daunting task of delivering 22 cars to customer teams over the next six weeks with cars going to Finland, Czech Republic, Ireland, Spain, South Africa, Poland, Portugal, Abu Dhabi and Italy.

,

No Comments

Post Autocross Interview with Curt Rosenstengel

 

Earlier this month, Brandon and I competed in a Furrin Group autocross with the Ford Fiesta. To gain some more feedback about how the Fiesta handles the course, we asked Curt Rosenstengel to jump in and take the car around the track. Curt is the autocross organizer for the Furrin Group, and has 10 years of experience in autocrossing. Here is the exclusive interview with Curt.

 

Bryan: What is your first reaction upon seeing a Fiesta in person?

Curt: Nice looking body style.  I’ve always liked the hatchback body style.

Small, but sporty looking.   Are these smaller than the current Ford

Focus?   The five door makes it easy to put two dog crates in the

back :-).

 

Bryan: What do you think of the interior, seats, ect? Were you comfortable in  the car?

Curt: The seats were great.   A nice flat black leather with accent color

stitching.  Very comfortable.   Gauges were easy to read, I like the

orange color.  Easy on the eyes.   I didn’t try the HVAC or radio

controls.

 

Bryan: Anything you did not like or wish was different?

Curt: I don’t like the key fob thing or push button start.   I’m a

traditionalist.

 

Bryan: How long have you been autocrossing?

Curt: I’ve been autocrossing for over 10 years.  Road rallying for almost 20.

 

Bryan: In comparison to other cars you have autocrossed, how did the Fiesta

stack up?

Curt: Slower.  It needs more get up and go.  Hopefully, there will be some go fast

aftermarket parts available.

 

Bryan: What is your impression of the handing of the Fiesta on course? Steering, gear shifts, brakes, ect how did they feel to you?

Curt: The steering was precise and the handling predictable.   It was very easy

to drive the course.  The gear shift placement was comfortable, but I didn’t

change gears throughout the course.  The brakes were good, but

I didn’t really push them.   Had to make sure I didn’t kick in the

traction control.

 

 

Bryan: Where you happy with the 1.6L DOHC engine?

Curt: It seemed like a decent engine.  More power would be good and for

autocrossing, a lower torque band.  I should have taken a closer look

at the engine compartment.   I am still one of those guys who likes to

do most of the maintenance myself.   Even if plugs last 100K miles, and

oil changes are longer intervals, the more maintenance I can do, the

more money I can save for upgrades.   Being able to replace a starter

or alternator without removing a lot of parts is important to me (I keep my

cars for 200K+ miles).  Compared to my 2000 VW Golf, it was very similar in

feel and pickup.

 

Bryan: Anything you would want changed for the US version?

Curt: A real ignition key (you can also have the start button :-).

 

Bryan: Did the Fiesta live up to your expectations? What are your thoughts about the Fiesta as an entire package after driving one?

Curt: I had one of the original Fiesta’s back in the early 80’s.   I enjoyed

that car, it was peppy, and fun to drive (and it had a 1.6L engine, as

well).  That car was very stripped down compared to today’s cars;

roll-up windows, 4-speed stick, basic interior, etc.   This new car

has all the bells and whistles that today’s consumer wants in a

car.   A much different direction than the previous model.  I like the

sporty look and that itself will attract younger buyers who would have

bought a Korean based car (similar styling).  It was fun to drive and

comfortable to drive, but it needs more oomph to be an autocross car.

 

For more information about autocrossing or solo racing, please check out www.furrin.org or www.scca.org. Thanks again to everyone at the Furrin Group and Curt for taking the time to organize the autocross events!

,

No Comments

Fiesta Open Track Review

By Bryan Redeker

            Is there anything the Fiesta can’t do? I figured it could do ok at autocrossing, but thought there is no way that the Fiesta could hold up under open track conditions. I predicted massive amounts of brake fade after a lap or so, the tires would overheat and lose their grip, and every corner would be met with understeer. I mean really, the Fiesta is not an open track car; it is a B-segment commuter that is designed to get good mileage. The Fiesta is not a STi, EVO, or M3. The Fiesta was not engineered to be a street car that goes to the track on the weekends. Or was it?

            Hiding beneath is Kinetic Designed sculpted body lies some real engineering. Under the bonnet is a 1.6L DOHC engine that feels to be way more powerful than 120hp. The futuristic cell-phone inspired dash and cockpit provide the perfect office to control the 2200 pound rocket. The Fiesta is not just a pretty body and a fancy dash stuck over a lackluster chassis, it is instead a total package of beauty and function. I know the car is outstanding on the street from the 3 months I have spent with it. However, for me, a good car needs to do more than just look pretty and do well on the streets; it needs to work on the track.

            That brings us to GingerMan Raceway in South Haven, Michigan. The 11 turn, 1.8 mile road course is one of my favorite tracks and has been a proving ground for everything I have owned. If it can’t handle the track, then I don’t want it. The track provides some great places to really test out a car at its limit. Two straight-aways have hard braking zones at the end, usually resulting in overcooking the brakes. Turn 2 is a decreasing radius sweeper which can send cars either plowing nose first into the weeds or spinning around. The braking zone in T3 is bumpy causing the ABS to come on or stalling out the engine if you lock. The 5-6 complex is one of my favorites because they create a 180′ turn in which different lines give you a totally different feel for the corners. T7 is a simple corner that leads into T8 and T9 which are long esses that seem to always catch me off guard. Get yourself out of shape at the T8/T9 right-left transition and the car will spin. I know, I have done it. T10 leads onto the back straight, and then to the scary T11 with pit entrance a wall in front of you. The only run-off is to dive into the pits if you get that corner wrong, otherwise the wall is there to take part of your checking account.

            I prepped the Fiesta by checking the torque on all of the lugnuts, then reducing the tire pressure to 37 psi cold in the front and 40 psi cold in the rear. My estimates are that they will heat up and be at 42 psi hot, which is the upper spec for the tire pressure. Helmet on, gloves on, engine started, time to get on track. Gradually I began to increase speed as the tires and brakes come up to temp, and I start to see how the Fiesta handles the track. I like to get a good idea of how the car behaves before really trying to push it. Schumacher said he finds the limit first, and then backs off. Right, I will just gradually work up to it instead. Once things are up to their proper temps, the fun begins. Each lap gets a little faster and faster, but the Fiesta doesn’t seem to protest. The brakes stay firm, and the tires howl just enough to tell me they are at their limit. I throw the car hard into the corners, and it stays neutral. No plowing understeer into the weeds, and the backend doesn’t step out during transitions. I am fairly sure the stability control kicked in a few times because the car felt like it was about to break the back loose and then instantly centered itself. The deeper I braked into the corners, the more the ABS would come on. Traction control would then activate coming out of the corners, which I wish it would not have. While the engine did not fall flat on its face as much as the SVT Focus does at the first hint of wheel spin, the Fiesta did seem to slow down for a second before going again. Most likely a case of the traction control cutting spark or retarding timing to regain traction at the front wheels. Eventually, the Pirelli tires would get hot and greasy. Time to come into the pits and let her cool down.

            In the pits I checked the tire pressures, and they were spot on 42 psi hot, right where I wanted them to be. To my surprise, the front wheels were not black as the night sky from being on track. The Fiesta smells like fried brake pads, and I love it.  One fear is that the drums would overheat and fade, but that never became an issue. Perhaps the front pads would be overworked and fade. After all, these are not track pads, they are production brake pads. I can get most cars to fade on the street and boil the brake fluid. Not the case with the Fiesta, there was some fade, but nothing compared to what normal cars exhibit on the street. The pads seemed to fade to a point, and then stay there until I was done. Steering response stayed precise for every lap, and the car always maintained its handling neutrality. There was very little understeer at turn-in or when the throttle was at WOT coming out of a corner. Suspension stayed firm even as the dampers become very hot. Clutch and gearbox handled the abuse well with no ill effects. Under hard braking the car kept its composure and required very little steering input to keep it straight. Really, there aren’t any complaints after being on track for 3 sessions. The Pirelli’s were the first to want to retire, but they were seeing abuse like they have never seen before. Considering these are factory installed tires, they exceeded my expectations on the track. Many street tires get hot and throw chunks of their tread blocks, not the case with these tires at all.

            So what improvement does the car need? That is usually the question that I go to the track to answer. Pushing the car to its limit is where you find what works and what doesn’t. The number one issue is the shift gates. Just as was the case in autocrossing, I needed to drop a gear in a few spots on the track to keep the engine revs high. The shift gate is too vague to allow a quick shift from 2-3 or from 2-1. I knew I could downshift into 2nd, but the upshift could leave me in 1st or 5th. Both would be bad, so I left it in 3rd and lap times suffered. Next, the traction control needs to have an on/off switch along with the stability control. While I did not have any issues with stability control on the track, it will become an issue in the winter when the handbrake is used for every turn. The traction control still robs too much power and slows the car down; a way to turn it off is a must. More seat bolstering would be nice as well. The car creates enough mechanical grip that I struggled to stay in the seat. Whoa, a commuter car that provides enough grip that I need more bolstering? Damn I love this car!

            Does the car need more power? Of course, but what doesn’t? Actually, the nice thing about the Fiesta is that it doesn’t make so much power you are afraid to push the car. My Mustang makes enough power to get me in trouble. I need to constantly feather the throttle to avoid wheel spin. The car also gets going really fast on the straights, so it eats brake pads trying to slow down. Get a downshift wrong in the Mustang and you spin. With the Fiesta, you can concentrate on the proper line, focus on your braking zones, and stay ahead of the car. I never felt like I was a passenger, but rather the pilot of one of the greatest compact cars to exist on the planet. The Fiesta passed the test on the track, and has earned the right to live at my house. Ford has created something amazing, and as long as the North American team doesn’t screw it up, they have a winner.

, ,

1 Comment

Fiesta Payload

            I wasn’t thinking on Sunday when I unloaded everything from the Fiesta, as it would have made a great picture. Here is the rundown of what the Fiesta was packed with for the autocross.

1 Driver

1 Passenger

4 P245/40 17 Hoosier R6 race tires mounted on 17″ x 9″ R58 Cobra R wheels

1 Hydraulic Jack

1 Electric screwdriver with battery and charger

4 Large wooden shims to place under the Mustang so the jack can get under the car

2 Bottles of water

1 Tuperware container with pyrometer, checklist, race notes, tire pressure gauge, tire chalk, pens, clipboards, zip-ties, screwdrivers, and other assorted hand tools

1 Torque Wrench

1 Pry Bar

2 Video Cameras

2 Digital SLR cameras

1 Digital camera

2 Racing helmets

1 pair of racing shoes

2 hooded sweatshirts

2 cups of coffee

1 Bottle of glass cleaner

1 roll of paper towel

 

For comparison, the Mustang had the following packed inside

1 Driver

0 Passengers

1 set of magnetic decals for both cars

2 Racing helmets

 

We discovered that the Fiesta makes a great track car companion and is capable of hauling stuff we used to need a truck for. Oh, in case you are wondering, Brandon’s Focus sedan can’t fit anything in its trunk because the opening is too small. See, aren’t hatchbacks great!

5 Comments