In many ways the 2014 Ford Fiesta ST is a race car built for the street; Global RallyCross Championship (GRC) fans will soon get an up-close view of the same car built exclusively for competition at the Chicago Auto Show.
With Ford's global launch of Fiesta ST under way, Ford Racing will introduce the ST performance badge in the 2013 season of the Global RallyCross Championship and Global X Games events.
The move is part of an expanded Global RallyCross program for Ford as it capitalizes on the growing popularity of the series and its increased visibility through X Games and some larger-than-life personalities, including Tanner Foust, Brian Deegan and Ken Block.
The first Fiesta ST GRC cars will debut this season with Block, Deegan and two-time Global RallyCross champion Foust. Foust and Deegan will give performance car enthusiasts and media the first look at the OlsbergsMSE Fiesta ST GRC race car this week at the Chicago Auto Show.
"Global RallyCross has been a great series for us to demonstrate what Ford's small performance cars can do," said Jamie Allison, director, Ford Racing. "With great drivers and teams, and now a formal manufacturer partnership with OlsbergsMSE, Ford Racing's commitment to Global RallyCross is quickly growing. We're excited about the debut of the Fiesta ST GRC car this year, and it will be fantastic to see Ford's global performance car compete in four countries around the world this season."
To support development of the RallyCross Fiesta ST program, Ford Racing has formalized its manufacturer partnership with OlsbergsMSE, whose credentials include two consecutive GRC driver championships with Foust, and podium finishes at all six rounds in 2012. The team has helped Ford earn GRC manufacturer's championships in 2011 and 2012.
OlsbergsMSE will field the Fiesta STs for Foust and Deegan.
"OlsbergsMSE has a good history developing extreme/RallyCross cars, and with the longer-term manufacturer relationship with Ford and its technical support, together we will develop even stronger RallyCross cars," said Andreas Eriksson, OlsbergsMSE team principal. "The partnership is exactly what OlsbergsMSE needs to continue to be a winning team in the coming years.
"There are great teams and manufacturers coming to the series and the sport," Eriksson continued. "We will have better and tougher competition, and I look forward to the challenge of staying persistent in the development of our cars.
"Outside of our technical development, we will also be very focused on providing our drivers with the information and input they need to be the best," Eriksson added. "This is the way our entire OlsbergsMSE program moves forward, together with Ford. To be the best in this extreme sport, hard work and dedication is required from drivers and team."
Joining Foust and Deegan to round out Ford's GRC program is Block and the Hoonigan Racing Division. Block's strong 2012 Global RallyCross season was highlighted by a silver medal at X Games 18 behind World Rally Champion Sebastien Loeb, and he posted top two qualifying positions in each of the series' last four rounds.
"I'm stoked to be able to say I'm going to be continuing to race Fords in Global RallyCross for the next few years, especially with the four X Games events this summer," said Block. "For the upcoming 2013 season, my team is taking everything we learned during my rookie season last year and applying it to an all-new RallyCross car. It's going to be a fun season."
The Global RallyCross Championship will have a true global presence in 2013. In addition to five expected North American events, there will be four X Games in 2013 with RallyCross competition. Ford is sole automotive sponsor for all four 2013 summer global X Games, which will include the traditional event in Los Angeles and new venues in Brazil, Spain and Germany.
"Global RallyCross and X Games allow us to connect with the next generation of Ford customers and a very important group of performance enthusiasts," said Allison. "They already know Ford for great products like Mustang and Raptor, but are becoming a real force helping drive the growing B- and C-car performance segments."