X-Games Kenny Brack Ford Fiesta Rally car

Inside the 800-hp Olsbergs Fiestas


The general chronology goes something like this:

Sweden, sometime in 2008: Four-time Swedish rally champion Andreas Ericsson runs a successful team of Ford Fiestas in the European Rallycross championship. If you think you know what this means, you're probably wrong.

A Ford Fiesta is a front-drive econobox with a small, transverse four. That could mean anything from a 60-hp 1.25-liter engine, to a 120-hp 1.6 (when U.S. cars arrive, they'll only have the 1.6). The Fiestas in Ericsson's Olsbergs rallycross team, on the other hand, run 2.0-liter Duratec engines stolen from the Focus, which are turned north-south, attached to what appears to be Escort Cosworth drivetrains, and connected to all four wheels.

An American rallycross is an autocross in the dirt. A European rallycross is an explosion of rally bundled up and barely confined within the grounds of a racetrack. Roughly speaking, take every European rally car that has ever been banned for being too fast, turn up the boost, and then run 6 of them, wheel-to-wheel, in a sprint race that alternates between pavement and dirt.

Combine all that is great about stage rally and remove horsepower restrictions, weight restrictions, and the need to pace yourself to survive multiple days of racing, and you have an explosion of pent-up rally rage that is second to none.

Take a look.....we'll wait:


(oh, and you may want to skip the first 2 minutes.)


My Swedish is not that great, but what I think we're looking at is Round 6 of the 2008 championship, where Marcus Gronholm joined the Olsbergs team for a taste of rallycross and kicked some ass. I believe the other orange Fiesta is Olsbergs team manager Andreas Ericsson. Anyone who actually understands Swedish, or whatever language that actually is, feel free to correct me.

European rallycross rules are not completely without restrictions on power. They do have to breathe through 45mm restrictors, which may sound small until you realize WRC cars make do with only 32mm restrictors. WRC cars manage just a hair over 300 hp through their restrictors, while the rallycross cars can do around 600. Oh, and they weigh around 2500 lbs. Put that in your Camaro and smoke it.

Sometime in 2009, Olsbergs debuts their new Fiesta, using the new bodystyle but only evolutionary mechanical bits. They win in only their second race.

Then Ford PR invites them to the U.S. to take on Pike's Peak and the X-Games.

Pike's Peak is famously unrestricted, so Ericsson uncorks the motors, cranks the boost, and starts bending connecting rods. A happy medium is found somewhere around 875 hp, running 35 psi of boost. He calls Marcus Gronholm and heads to Colorado.

The Pike's Peak International Hillclimb starts at 9,000 feet and ends at 14,000, so even at the start the cars are already back down in the 600-hp range (679 according to Erkisson). By the end, the turbo is damaged, the brakes are on fire, and one of the valve stems has melted, deflating a rear tire. Nonetheless, it's worth watching: 



This video is where I come in. I watched, and I wanted to know more. How exactly do they get these Miata engines (the Ford Duratec is also known as a Mazda MZR) to 800-hp, and how do they harness that power and make it usable?

Turn the page, hit the jump, click on the little thing that says next page, whatever. Just go there to see whatever I've managed to figure out so far.


Page 1 of 3 Next Page
Bookmark and Share
Eric Hsu
Eric Hsulink
Thursday, August 06, 2009 11:14 AM
Mazda should get some of those heads and let Cosworth analyze them, oh sorry I mean so I can play with one.
Ted Andkilde
Ted Andkildelink
Friday, August 07, 2009 1:30 AM
Hey Dave, do those Escort/Sierra Cosworth trannies and diffs bear any relation to standard Sierra 4x4 bits?

Cheers, Ted
Billy Elliot Mann
Billy Elliot Mannlink
Friday, August 07, 2009 4:10 AM
Cars look amazing. I know there's been talk of how much engineering went into these cars (especially by the factory Subaru guys). Will be looking for the follow up talk. Can't wait to see these on the stages in the Rally America series!
Friday, August 07, 2009 5:43 AM
Not to write a book but I've got a few questions.

-who makes the suspension, roller or bushing, linear or digressive valving, and what's the total travel at the wheels?
-what's the F/R weight distribution?
-who makes the drivetrain?
-active or passive differentials?
-how does the differential bias change from gravel to tarmac and what are the approximate break away torques?
Billy Elliot Mann
Billy Elliot Mannlink
Saturday, August 08, 2009 4:10 PM
I can already tell you the differential question for sure. Center diff will be electronically controlled. But the front and rear need to be mechanical to be Rally America legal.

Also, to be honest, the bias control won't get shared that easily and props to Dave if he can get it from them. You'd be looking at a good chunk of money to get an off the shelf map from a respectable rally tuner. You might get basics but still won't tell much as you've got so many inputs that determine a center diff map... throttle, brakes, steering input, anything from a yaw sensor, etc.

Eric Hsu
Eric Hsulink
Saturday, August 08, 2009 10:07 PM
I just watched a re-run of the X-games on ESPN. Those Fiestas sound PISSED OFF. The Subarus and EVOs sound gentle in comparison.
Monday, August 10, 2009 4:58 AM
-who makes the pistons and is it a 2 or 3 ring pack?
-what connecting rods and are they bushed or DLC on the piston pin?
-what advanced coatings do they use in the engine...DLC on piston pin, camshafts, tappets, etc?
Monday, August 10, 2009 5:17 AM
I would like to know more details about the engine, specifically the main girdle. I would guess it's not stock? What is it designed like and what type of material was used?
Monday, August 10, 2009 7:19 AM
-is the dry sump open scavenging or chambered, how many stages are they using, and do they de-aerate in the tank only or have an extra pump stage for that?
Tuesday, August 11, 2009 4:44 AM
-is the cage made from T45, 25CrMo4, 15CDV6, or something else?
Monday, February 01, 2010 3:17 PM
Monday, June 25, 2012 9:23 AM
The duratec is BASED on the MZR but is NOT the same thing. Please do not call them the same and confuse people. Mazda MZR has VVT while the duratec does not. There are other differences too.

I loved watching this Pikes Peak run. Its amazing what kind of power these guys are making on these small 4 cyl.
Anonymous User
Anonymous Userlink
Wednesday, August 02, 2017 11:30 PM
Post Comment Login or register to post a comment.

MotoIQ Proudly Presents Our Partners:

© 2018 MotoIQ.com