The semi-works Ford squad has unveiled a bold new livery for its voyage into the WRC’s new hybrid era, with the team opting for a striking purple and blue colour scheme, featuring sponsorship from energy drinks manufacturer Red Bull.
M-Sport was the first of the three WRC manufacturers to showcase its Rally1 prototype, choosing to launch at last year’s Goodwood Festival of Speed. Since then the car has undergone a series of rigorous tests in all conditions to prepare it for the new WRC season.
The final iteration of the Puma was unveiled alongside rivals Toyota and Hyundai at WRC’s 2022 season launch at Hangar-7 in Salzburg, Austria in front of FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem.
The WRC’s new Rally1 regulations promise to deliver the most unpredictable season for decades as teams have been forced to construct all new machines and understand hybrid technology, with all cars featuring a control 100kW hybrid unit designed by Compact Dynamics .
Working alongside the 1.6 litre turbo charged internal combustion engine, cars will produce 500 horsepower in short bursts. Drivers will be able to initiate hybrid power boosts by using the throttle pedal and will unlock further boosts within stages if they sufficiently regenerate 30 kilojoules of energy under braking.
Rally1 cars are constructed around a new safer, steel spaceframe chassis built from scratch, without using a production car base. Compared to their predecessors, vehicles will be approximately 70kg heavier, feature reduced aerodynamics to the tune of 15%, have less suspension travel and will be without trick centre differentials.
Ford Puma Rally1 livery
Photo by: Drew Gibson
Boosted by increased backing from Ford to develop the Puma, M-Sport is quietly confident its 2022 car will see the team contend for victories again having last won a WRC rally in 2018 at Rally GB.
Last season the team elected to push the majority of its limited resources into developing the Puma alongside Ford, which has resulted in positive feedback from its new driver line-up.
Former factory Hyundai driver Craig Breen has been recruited to spearhead a three-car full season attack alongside Gus Greensmith and Adrien Fourmaux, both retained from last season.
A fourth car will join the trio at next weekend’s Monte Carlo season opener, to be piloted by nine-time WRC champion Sebastien Loeb, fresh from finishing second at this year’s Dakar Rally.
Testing has largely run smoothly for M-Sport until Breen suffered an unfortunate crash in this week’s pre-event test in France. Luckily both driver and co-driver Paul Nagle were unhurt and the test continued after an overnight repair was completed on the Puma.
Loeb is set to test the Puma on Sunday to prepare himself for the opening WRC round from 20-23 January.