PRETORIA, South Africa – Rallying in South Africa has been given a major boost with the announcement that Ford – one of the most revered names in the discipline's history – is returning to the fray in the top class after an absence of more than a decade.
Carrying the Ford banner will be Charl Wilken and Greg Godrich who will field a new Ford Fiesta in the top Super 2000 (S2000) category.
“It’s great to be back after 10 years away from the local rally scene,'' said Jacques Brent, vice president, Sales, Marketing and Service, Ford Motor Company of Southern Africa. ''The Fiesta S2000 will complement our Ford Focus production car circuit racing programme and further entrench Ford’s high performance pedigree which gives added excitement to our wide range of Ford vehicles on offer to the buying public.''
The Fiesta has been developed in Britain by Malcolm Wilson’s M-Sport operation, the team responsible for Ford’s highly successful World Rally Championship campaign. The new car, which complies with the latest international regulations made a dream debut in the famous Monte Carlo Rally with Mikko Hirvonen at the wheel, dominating the event from start to finish.
Ford was a major player on the South Africa rally scene for many years, and was dominant for a long period with its iconic Escort. It is one of the most successful manufacturers in the 50-year history of local rallying, having notched up 54 rally wins and two manufacturers’ championships. Ford drivers and co-drivers collected five overall national titles.
During Ford's absence from the rally scene, only Toyota and Volkswagen contested the local championship.
Round one of the South African Rally Championship will take place in KwaZulu Natal from 5-7 March.