Video: watch the new Ford Puma rally car in FULL SEND
We’re just over a month away from seeing the World Rally Championship begin its new hybrid era in Monte Carlo, which means teams should be putting the finishing touches on their replacements for the now retired 1.6 turbo beasts. Sad times.
Meanwhile over in Romania, Ford’s Craiova plant has cause for celebration having just hit its 1,000,000th car milestone. How to combine these two things? Correct: with a spectacular drifting extravaganza.
As seen in the video above, Ford’s staff can be seen getting ready to mark their achievement with a champagne-, balloon- and cake-filled party, only for an overnight ‘electrical storm’ to bring the M-Sport Ford Puma Rally1 (and all of the factory’s machinery) to life.
At that exact moment the team’s rally driver Adrien Fourmaux happens to be passing through, and he sets about using the plant as his own personal test track in a manner that would make Ken Block doff his helmet.
Much leaping, sliding and drifting later, Ford’s employees - led by president of Ford Romania Jo Payne - return the next morning to discover their preparations are in tatters. Spoiler alert: the cake doesn’t survive.
“I’m thrilled that the 2022 World Rally Car will be the Puma Rally1 and to have had the vehicle visit Craiova to be able to mark this milestone day with such a special film was extra special”, said Payne. “It was a great pleasure to be part of this project and to welcome the M-Sport team and Adrien Fourmaux to Craiova while transforming our plant for a couple of days into a true movie set.”
This is the first time we’ve seen M-Sport’s new Rally1 competitor in action since a prototype made its debut at the Goodwood Festival of Speed. Like its predecessor it’s powered by a 1.6-litre EcoBoost engine, only this time it’s backed up by a 100kW motor and a 3.9kWh battery for added boostiness.
The hybrid system is liquid- and air-cooled, and tips the scales at 95kg.
“The moment we heard about such an exciting project we knew we had to make it happen”, said Richard Millener, M-Sport Ford World Rally Team principal. “What better way to celebrate the incredible work of M-Sport and Ford in developing the Puma Hybrid Rally1, than showing it off at the home of the Puma production facilities.”
Quite. The new car has a lot to live up to, mind: the Fiesta it replaces won the title three times after its introduction in 2017. No pressure, then.