Mikko Hirvonen and Jarmo Lehtinen won the legendary Monte Carlo Rally in the new M-Sport Ford Fiesta S2000 rally car after leading from start to finish on its competitive debut
Ford's official FIA World Rally Championship team drivers mastered treacherous winter conditions in the mountains of southern France to reach the finish at Monaco's harbour with a 1min 51.4sec advantage.
The Fiesta S2000 has been developed by Ford's rally partner, M-Sport, and the five-day 405.01km Monte Carlo Rally was its racing debut.
The rally also provided Finns Hirvonen and Lehtinen with an ideal warm-up for the forthcoming WRC season, which begins in Sweden next month.
The Monte Carlo Rally was the opening round of the Intercontinental Rally Challenge (IRC), for which M-Sport is a registered contender. Snow and ice littered the mountain roads in the Ardèche and Alpes-Maritimes regions and grip levels constantly changed in the slippery conditions.
"The Monte Carlo Rally is one of the world's great rallies and it's a big thrill to win here," said 29-year-old Hirvonen. "It was a long, hard event and the conditions made the challenge even tougher. This car is brand new to competition but everything worked perfectly from the first kilometre. That's a tribute to the whole team, and particularly the people who put in so much effort over the last two weeks.
M-Sport managing director Wilson said: "It's a dream debut for our new Fiesta S2000. We led from the first stage to the last and didn't experience a single problem, which is hugely encouraging for a new car. Mikko drove at exactly the pace he needed to win and his feedback will be crucial in our further development of the Fiesta."