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DEARBORN -- Ford Racing and New Hampshire based Team O’Neil Driving School announced the formation of the Ford Racing Fiesta Rally Experience this week. The class which is offered as a one day overview or a two-day more in depth course features the Ford Fiesta and teaches students the basics of rally racing. Tim O’Neil, five time North American Rally champion, talks about the Ford Racing Fiesta Rally Experience.
Q, I JUST SIGNED UP FOR THE FORD RACING FIESTA RALLY EXPERIENCE, WHAT CAN I EXPECT?
A. One of the things about the Fiesta Rally Experience is it is just that, an experience. You aren’t going to master any of the driving skills in one day, but you are going to experience the braking in the turns, trail braking, pendulum turns. You are going to get a taste of three or four maneuvers that we commonly use in rally. There may be a total of twelve different maneuvers that a driver like Ken Block uses, but we will make sure that you learn left foot braking, braking in the turn, trail braking and pendulum turns. Add to that you also get a rally ride around the course, which a lot of people really like. The Fiesta Rally Experience is how they do it in Europe at the rally schools. Most rally schools are not as complete as our more advanced classes, the two, three and four day sessions. The Fiesta Rally Experience is designed to give you a taste and have a little fun. I find that once someone goes through the Experience class they get the bug and a lot of them sign up for the other courses. The great thing is the cost of the Rally Experience is credited to the more advanced class so this is a great way to get an introduction and see if you want more.
Q.IS THERE ANY SPECIAL REQUIRMENT THAT I NEED BEFORE TAKING THE CLASS? DO I BASCIALLY JUST NEED A DRIVERS LICENCE?
A. You don’t even need a driver’s license. The youngest person I currently teach is my daughter who is 8-years-old. Chris Duplessis came here when he was only 12 and now he is a Rally America champion. Our only requirement for someone that young is that you have to have parental consent and that your parent has to have taught you how to drive a standard and showed you how to be aware of your driving situations. So basically the program is open to all ages and all stages of rally experience.
Q. I HAVE CAUGHT THE BUG AND MY NEXT STEP IS THE TWO-DAY FORD RACING FIESTA RALLY SCHOOL.
A. The two-day Ford Racing Fiesta Rally School is basically the same two-day course that you would find in Europe. The first day isn’t quite like the Fiesta Rally Experience. It is a lot more in depth on left foot braking, braking in the turn and the second day is focused on pendulum turns and trail braking. In the Ford Racing Fiesta Rally School you are stay in the 2WD Fiesta and at the end of the class you get to go “hot” and do a timed run just like a rallycross.
Q. BEYOND THE FORD RACING FIESTA RALLY SCHOOL IS YOUR MORE ADVANCED THREE AND FOUR DAY TEAM O’NEIL COURSES.
A. One thing to understand is that you don’t have to immediately take the third and fourth day. I have had a lot of students come back six months or a year later and take the third and fourth day. In these classes you will transition from 2WD to AWD cars and take the next step in developing your rally racing skills.
Q. YOU ARE PASSIONATE ABOUT THE SPORT OF RALLY RACING AND YOU VIEW THE FIESTA AND THE FORD RACIGN FIESTA RALLY EXPERIENCE AS A WAY TO GROW THE SPORT IN NORTH AMERICA.
A. People have always asked me what it takes to make a good rally car. I tell them a car that is strong, easy to fix, reliable and light and all of these things are found in the Fiesta. I view the Fiesta as a way for people who want to rally and race to be able to buy an inexpensive car that they can race in autocross or rallycross. All it takes is a few minor tweaks to the suspension they can go racing. The Fiesta is a perfect entry vehicle for the aspiring rally racer. It gives them a car that they can add parts to as they move up the ladder. Too many people look at the top levels of rally and see a Ken Block and think I can’t do that because I need his Monster World Rally Team Fiesta. That isn’t how the rest of the world does it. You start with a low cost easy to maintain vehicle like the Fiesta and you upgrade your car as your budget and competition level dictates.