R5 going strong in rally around the world

M-Sport Ford World Rally Team Principal, Rich Millener, believes the current R5 program has been highly successful around the world and is looking forward to seeing the program develop further.

As the latest guest to appear on ARC Service Park, hosted by Adrian Coppin, Millener discussed the current COVID-19 situation and its impact on the sport, the FIA World Rally Championship and a number of different machinery both from the past and present, including the R5 model.

Making a first appearance in the RSEA Safety Motorsport Australia Rally Championship back in 2018, there has been an R5 car at almost every round of the championship since – and the WRC spec car has always been quick.

Since then, the battle between the impressive Australian built Toyota Yaris AP4, piloted by the Bates brothers for Toyota Gazoo Racing Australia, and the R5s has excited rally fans at events around Australia.

Eli Evans and Coppin himself were the first two drivers to debut the R5 on Australian soil with the Skoda Fabia. Evans eventually took out the 2018 title behind the wheel of the speedy Skoda after winning three rounds during the season. Narrowly edging out Harry Bates in the Yaris AP4. Bates got his revenge in 2019, beating a handful of R5s throughout 2019 to claim his maiden Championship.

Last year also saw AGI Sport’s Luke Anear and West Australian state champion John O’Dowd both drive R5 variants, with Anear debuting the Ford Fiesta R5 in Australia, the duo recording a number of solid results throughout the year for their respective teams.

Millener with Toby Price and Elfyn Evans. Photo: Red Bull Content Pool

With the M-Sport Ford World Rally Team having worked closely alongside Anear, Millener was confident the formula would continue to grow, especially with a new category soon to be released.

“I think the R5 formula has been a category that has been very successful all over the world and it has taken a while to get over to Australia,” Millener .

“Luke Anear flew the flag for us a little bit. I still speak to him regularly. So it’s great to see a car over there. I think now after a few years, the benefits of R5 have sunk in.

“The R5 will continue to grow because the prices are still stable. We are in the early stages of the Mk2 R5 that we have, which is proving to be popular.

“FIA have released information about a new category in New Rally 3 – a four wheel drive variant of the R2 car and that will be cost cut between the R2 and R5s. It’s going to be an incredibly good formula once it’s formalised.”

Fans can watch the full episode of ARC Service Park in the video below.