Wait, does that title infer what I think it does? Didn’t Volkswagen win the FIA WRC manufacturers title in a dominant fashion last season? Yes, Volkswagen did win the manufacturer’s title as far as the FIA is concerned, but please note that I said “manufacturing” not “manufacturer” title.
First let me be clear, I’m not a Ford fanboy or a Malcolm Wilson fanboy or anything like that. Regardless I think I can make a good case as to why M-Sport is the current rally manufacturing winner even if they don’t have the WRC title. Next week will be the opening round of the historic Rallye Monte Carlo and one look at the entry list and you can see M-Sports domination as a manufacturer. The entries include 3 Volkswagen Polo R WRCs, 2 Hyundai i20 WRCs, 2 Citroen DS3 WRCs, and 7….yes 7 M-Sport built Ford Fiesta RS WRCs. M-Sport built WRC entries equal the total count by all the other manufacturer entries in the class combined! The count is even higher for the second round at Rally Sweden where 17 top class WRC cars will be competing, which is the largest car count I’ve heard of in the last decade. Fully 10 of those entries are WRC Ford Fiestas.
M-Sport’s dedicated team of engineers were also the first to successfully turn out a fully homologated, and very competitive R5 which swept the WRC2 podium at last year’s Wales Rally GB. There will be five R5 Fiesta’s in Monte competing next week, and likely at least that many at every round.
M-Sport’s success doesn’t stop there of course. There are the bevvy of 2wd Fiesta R2s that reinvigorated the Junior WRC / WRC Academy championship the last 3 years and have become the standard for young champions in the making. Throw in the occasional Fiesta S2000 or RRC regional rally car and the other manufacturers can’t hold a candle to the volume of competitive cars being produced out of Dovenby Hall.
To further reinforce M-Sport as a rally manufacturing leader, there was this announcement today at the Autosport Show in the UK. “DMACK and M-Sport have joined forces to provide a cost-effective series within the 2014 FIA World Rally Championship which offers an incredible prize drive of a full WRC 2 season in a Ford Fiesta R5 car in 2015.” This new contest will be called the Drive DMACK Fiesta Cup and offers the same reward as the 2014 Junior WRC championship, but at half the cost.
M-Sport Fiestas are all over the world too. Here in the states Brendan Reeves dominated the Rally America 2wd Championship in a Team O’Neil Ford Fiesta with an R2 kit from M-Sport. Ken Block’s HFHV is also of M-Sport design where it can be converted to compete in both Rally America and the Global Rallycross Championship.
Okay, admittedly M-Sport doesn’t get WRC manufacturer points for most of these entries, but does that matter? As a business M-Sport has created a reputation for making competitive, strong, reliable, and affordable rally cars with such success that it seems privateer teams are lining up to get their hands on a homoligated Fiesta in almost every rally category. Citroen might get a little closer with their DS3 R3Ts dominating the WRC3 scene and the 2014 Junior WRC, but for now the rally manufacturing crown surely most go to the M-Sport squad and their close collaboration with Ford. In my book M-Sport currently holds the manufacturing title by a long shot, and with it have helped increase the car counts at every rally.