M-Sport has confirmed it is building a Ford Fiesta R5 car, following AUTOSPORT's exclusive story last week.
M-Sport's commercial director John Steele admitted work on the all-new Fiesta had actually begun, with the first test car expected to be running before the end of the year.
Steele said: "We have had a team working on the project since May this year, following the initial evaluation work that had been undertaken."
He added that the new car - aimed at regional and domestic rallying in the world - would fit neatly into M-Sport's range of R1, R2, Super 2000, Regional Rally Car and World Rally Car Fiestas.
He added: "The intention is that the R5 will complement the already successful Ford Fiesta S2000 and the Ford Fiesta WRC and RRC models that have been very competitive in regional series around the world. The R5 will be based on the 1.6 turbo Fiesta ST road car and use a lot of the design knowledge and experience generated from the S2000 and the World Rally Car. At the same time, it will be a new car with new engine, transmission, roll cage, fuel tank, electronics, all complying with the strict FIA regulations on design and costs.
"We are intending to have the first cars running before the end of the year with the car homologated in the spring of 2013 and available for sale as soon as possible after that.
"The emphasis on the design team has been the take the parts of the S2000 and World Rally Car that we know work very well and try to remove as much complexity as possible. We're looking to retain the dynamics but to simplify the manufacturing processes and try to make it as easy as possible to use and maintain. It is intended that this car will be able to be used in regional series with the minimum amount of technical support from the engineers here."
M-Sport is hoping to emulate the success of its Fiesta S2000, which has sold around the world.
"We are," said Steele, "predicting that the build numbers will be similar to the S2000 and we are working to make the car as economical as possible - the target is to make it half the price of the WRC. But this will only be confirmed once the test programme has been completed."