Ford's technical director Christian Loriaux is confident early season development of the Fiesta RS WRC will pay dividends at this week's Rally Argentina.
The M-Sport-built Fiesta spent time earlier this year in Ford's elaborate "climatic chamber" at its engine factory in the UK, with the special focus of ensuring the Ford remained competitive during the high-altitude Rally Mexico earlier this year. Loriaux says the work has led to benefits beyond the Guanajuato event.
"What we learned helped us learn more and more about other things," said Loriaux. "We worked on the engine map before Mexico and while doing that we have understood more and more about the maps. That time in the chamber has really helped the engine work this year."
Loriaux added that the biggest step forward for Ford came with the new gear ratios which were introduced at the last event in Portugal.
"We have a longer first gear and slightly shorter sixth," said the Belgian. "First was really short, and we were just about never using it; effectively, instead of a 6-speed gearbox, we only had a 5-speed on the gravel.
"With the old car [the Focus RS WRC], where you had a flat power curve, it was OK, but this one is a bit more peaky, so the more gear you have the faster you are. We knew the ratios were a good step forward and that gave us good confidence."
Loriaux added that he was also sure the team had eradicated the misfire which plagued some of the Fiestas running on the Rally of Portugal, with the issue believed to be linked the heavy rain experienced in that event.
"A lot of people had a misfire and we think we have tracked it down," he said, "but I'm not going to count my chickens before they hatched and tell you how confident I am. The problem was probably water-related – it is a concern with the number of watersplashes in Argentina, but we fixed it."