No new M-Sport Fords for 2017 Red Bull GRC season

by Dominik Wilde

There are no plans for any more M-Sport Ford Fiestas to make their way to the US to compete in Red Bull Global Rallycross in 2017.

That is the word from a representative from the Cumbrian firm, speaking at the recent Autosport International show in Birmingham.

Currently, four of the British-built cars compete in Red Bull GRC, with Chip Ganassi Racing, Bryan Herta Rallysport, and AD Racing all running the cars in 2016. Ken Block introduced the car to the series in 2013, and it has since become one of the championship’s success stories, taking 10 wins in four seasons, second only to the Volkswagen Andretti Rallycross Beetle during the same period.

Speaking at Autosport International, an M-Sport representative confirmed that there had been no orders placed for new cars ahead of the upcoming season, but two of the existing chassis – one believed to be Block’s former car – are currently at M-Sport’s facility.

Last year M-Sport introduced the Ford Focus RS to the FIA World Rallycross Championship in partnership with Block’s Hoonigan Racing Division, with the American racing the new car alongside seasoned Ford competitor Andreas Bakkerud. However there are presently no plans to run the car, which took three wins in 2016, in Red Bull GRC.

Ken Block (seen here in 2015) brought M-Sport into Red Bull GRC in 2013 – Credit: Larry Chen/Red Bull Global Rallycross

Ford in Global Rallycross

Ford have been ever-present in Red Bull GRC since the series’ inception in 2011. Olsbergs MSE brought the Fiesta into the series during that first season and took seven out of eight wins that year with Tanner Foust and Marcus Gronholm locking out the top two places in the championship standings.

It was a similar story the following year, with Olsbergs Fords taking 11 wins from a possible 15, and two of their drivers again locking out the top two positions in the points – Foust heading Brian Deegan.

Both Olsbergs and M-Sport have built race winning Fords for Red Bull GRC – Credit: Garth Milan/Red Bull Content Pool

2013 was another dominant season for OMSE Fords. they won all but two races that year as Topi Heikkenen took a comprehensive championship title. That year also saw the beginning of Ford’s torch passing onto M-Sport. Ken Block won the season finale in his alternative Fiesta, and he took two more wins in 2014, while OMSE could only manage one in the hands on Patrik Sandell in Washington DC. Yet miraculously, OSME driver Joni Wiman prevailed in the championship race, consistency being key to his campaign.

2015 was all change – the field was awash with customer M-Sport cars as Bryan Herta Rallysport and Chip Ganassi Racing took delivery of two cars each while Ken Block continued to run his famous number 43. Seven of 13 race wins went to the Blue Oval, four for M-Sport, and three for Olsbergs. However, for the first time in Red Bull GRC history, it wasn’t a Ford driver who won the championship, although they did again take another manufacturers’ crown.

Last year saw Red Bull GRC’s undisputed number one sport fully shift into Volkswagen’s court, but Ford were still ‘best of the rest’, despite long-term factory partner Olsberg’s switch to running Hondas for the first time. Customer teams Chip Ganassi Racing and Bryan Herta Rallysport shared a quarter of last season’s wins, while Honda failed to win in a year truly dominated by their German rivals.

Ford’s dominance has been curtailed by Volkswagen in recent years – Credit: Louis Yio/Red Bull Global Rallycross

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