Welcome to the first Sunday Service Park of 2011. The news has been slow due to Christmas and New Year’s, but we are going to take a look at the 2011 Manufacturer’s Championship for the WRC. Citroen has dominated the series for the last few years, but this season Ford has a great shot at taking the fight to the French as the slate is wiped clean.
The late introduction of the FiA technical regulations for 2011 has now potentially shown us the first gap between Ford and Citroen. As was reported earlier this week, Citroen directors really believe the late release of the rules have hampered their cars potential. In the previous development of the Xsara and C4, the French squad had ample time to work out the bugs. For the DS3, time is not a luxury and there is a percived worry about the car and its competitive form. I however would take comfort in knowing that Sebastien Loeb is behind the wheel. If we know anything, it is that regardless of the cars final product, Loeb will get the most out of it. There is the chance this could be a clever play by Citroen and there indeed may not be much to worry about. Given the radical changes to the cars this season, it is very realistic there could be issues with the DS3.
Ford on the other hand has a great jump on the Fiesta. The chassis made its debut last season in the SWRC and IRC. Obviously tweeks will be made to the bodywork and the addition of th e1.6 litre turbo will be new, but a whole season of chassis work will serve them well. Team that whatever tweeks Ford has to add for the WRC variant and the battle is half over. Ford is not however sitting back doing nothing. Numerous interviews with M-Sport’s Malcolm Wilson indicate the team is “busier than ever” ahead of the 2011 campaign. Ford is currently preparing a number of cars for customer outfits that will run the M-Sport banner. Citroen on the other hand plans on only four to start with. Team the Fiesta’s current development with a red hot Jari Matti Latvala and true contender in Mikko Hirvonen and Ford really controls its own destiny in 2011.
While the season is long and always unpredictable, it will be amazing to see the two titans collide on stage. Ford is expecting M-Sport to return to the days of old and claim a Manufacturer’s trophy and for the first time in a few years, Ford has a really good shot at doing just that.