M-Sport, in collaboration with the organisers of the Irish Tarmac Championship, will next year launch a one-make series in Ireland for the newly released regional specification Ford Fiesta R2.

Following on from the launch of the French Junior Rally Championship as well as a similar series in Belgium and further regions soon to follow, the concept is to offer drivers in Ireland a chance to pitch their driving skills head-to-head in identical cars over the course of the Clonakilty Blackpudding supported series.

The series will consist of six rounds of which the four best scorings will count towards championship points which are allocated as follows: 17 / 14 / 12 / 10 / 8 / 7 / 6 / 5 / 4 / 3. As the car is homologated, points can also be scored in class 2 of the ITRC 1 in accordance with regulations.

The technical specification of the car will be set by M-Sport and this will follow the newly launched Ford Fiesta R2 built specifically for regional championships.

The car kit – which is marketed under the name ‘R2 National’ – is based on the one-litre Ecoboost Ford Fiesta R2, but with standard engine and simpler Bilstein suspension.

The regional specification Fiesta produces 155hp with 230Nm of torque. The kit uses the same chassis modification, Sadev sequential gearbox and Alcon brakes front and rear as the international specification, but is £9,000 cheaper at just £20,998 + VAT (€24,475 EUR at today’s exchange rate).

The regional kit is homologated into the R2 class and can easily be updated to full international specification at a cost of approximately £10,000 should it be required at a later date.

The ITRC Fiesta Sport Trophy will use a control tyre and the tyre specification and number of tyres available for each round will be determined by bulletin prior to the first round of the series.

M-Sport is in the process of developing the prize structure which will incorporate incentives for each round of the series. Including a mixture of products and vouchers, further details will also be confirmed via bulletin.

M-Sport will be supporting each round and have a parts truck with essential spares and technical support available for both R2 and R5 customers to ensure each team achieves the best possible result from each event.

The overall prize will see the winner given a wild card entry to contest the FST Shootout at M-Sport. Prize winners from all regional series will be invited to come to M-Sport where they will be tested on their driving skills, media savvy and physical fitness before being interviewed by M-Sport management. The winner will then be given an opportunity to drive a round of the WRC in the Ford Fiesta R2 as part of the M-Sport team.

Fiesta R2 conversion kits are available now from M-Sport’s base in Krakow, Poland and anybody interested in this vehicle should contact Krzysztof Zuchowicz by telephone on +48 125 686 2005 or by e-mail on kzuchowicz@m-sport.co.uk

M-Sport will also be at Autosport International in January where the Ford Fiesta R2 will be on display and we look forward to the opening round at the Galway Rally to enjoy more closely-fought competition.

Malcolm Wilson OBE, M-Sport Managing Director, said:

“It is great to be back in the Irish Tarmac series with a one-make series. The Ford Fiesta R2 is the ideal way for drivers to pitch themselves head-to-head in an equal car that is quick and reliable without being difficult to build or maintain.

“With series planned in France, Belgium and other locations to be confirmed, we are confident that this will be a popular option as we move forward.

“In conjunction with our support for the Junior series in Ireland – and the offer of an R5 drive in a round of the British Rally Championship if the winner of the ITRC series is in a Fiesta R5 – we look forward to seeing the series grow even further.”

David Gray, Chairman of the Championship Organisers, commented;

”I am delighted that M-Sport have chosen to come to the ITRC with this brave new concept. This announcement will undoubtedly set the standard for competitors seeking to register for the championship at entry level”