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Brand new motorsport preparation firm EDSL Sport showcased the team and its fleet of M-Sport Ford Fiesta’s to a host of progressive junior rally drivers, at a successful customer taster session in Wales last weekend (17th November).

The Hampshire based team hosted nine prospective customers who were eager to sample the latest specification 1.0-litre EcoBoost Ford Fiesta R2T around the treacherous forest tracks at Walters Arena near Swansea. The customer day attracted talented young drivers from across Europe and the UK, many of which are considering the ultra-competitive MSA British Junior Rally Championship as part of their plans for 2019.

Formed just prior to this year’s Wales Rally GB in October, despite entering the fold as a new business, EDSL Sport has a proven wealth of experience in the team, which is headed up by former BRC Junior contender and Fiesta R2T pilot Alex Waterman.

Alongside him, a small but dedicated workforce offer over 80 years of experience which will play a vital part in their new venture. The Ford Fiesta specialists will offer new-car builds, rally car hire and on-event support, as well as a complete, arrive and drive service on events from club to World Rally Championship level.

Eager to exhibit their offering ahead of the 2019 season, EDSL Sport hosted an array of progressive youngsters in Wales, enabling them to sample two of the team’s M-Sport Ford Fiesta’s at competitive speeds, many for the first time.

With varying skill levels present, EDSL Sport brought both of its FIA Junior World Rally Championship specification Fiesta R2T’s, as well as providing drivers with tuition from former factory driver Geoff Jones. British Rally Championship Manager Iain Campbell was on hand to offer advice and support for those considering the Junior category next season, as was the BTRDA and Fiesta ST Trophy representative Ian Arden.

Travelling to the test from Finland, Markus Manninen was able to get a taste of both the Fiesta R2T and British forests for the first time during the day. Having previously piloted a Fiesta ST and latterly an R2, Manninen quickly felt at home in the EDSL Sport machine.

British Rally Championship Cadet Cup victor Jordan Reynolds also made his debut in an R2T, as did fellow title contenders Finlay Retson and Bart Lang. All three drivers have campaigned a Fiesta R2 in 2018.

The BTRDA Rally Series was represented by George Lepley, Mathew Tordoff and James Giddings. Lepley was able to pilot the R2T after dominating the R2 Rallye Cup this season, whilst Tordoff was fresh from an outing at Wales Rally GB in the Castrol backed Fiesta R2. Giddings had his first outing in the potent 1.0-litre machine after a season in the Fiesta ST Trophy.

Jack Walby made his return to the driver’s seat after almost three years away, making the switch from a Citroen C2 to the modern specification Fiesta for the first time. Ross Leach from The Forest Experience Rally School was also able to get behind the wheel during the session.

The day was non-stop with drivers all eager to sample the Fiesta ahead of next season and Team Manager Alex Waterman was delighted with the experience it offered.

“The day could not have gone any better and I`m very proud of the team and what we have achieved in such a short space of time,” he said.

“We had nine drivers, all with varying levels of experience and all with different championship aspirations. This created an extremely warming atmosphere where everyone shared their experiences and what they wanted to get out of 2019. We were able to create a very fulfilling day and I`m sure it was extremely valuable for each of the drivers. Having the likes of Iain Campbell, Ian Arden and Geoff Jones on hand helped massively to and I do have to thank them for coming along to the test. I must also say thank you to Pirelli for the best tyres possible and Rally Cover who helped protect the drivers and the team during the day”.

Waterman has had a very positive response to the inauguration of EDSL Sport and has many plans on the horizon for the team.

“Both of our M-sport R2T’s covered around 140kms today and we didn’t have to touch them at all. That’s half of Wales Rally GB in one day and it really proves how reliable the Fiestas really are. We have had many enquiries from across Europe ahead of next season, including many who could not attend the test. We are growing all the time and I have to say I am really looking forward to seeing what the future holds for EDSL Sport. It’s exciting times.”

More information on EDSL Sport can be found by visiting http://www.edslsport.co.uk

What the drivers said:

Finlay Retson: “I found the EDSL Sport Fiesta R2T a great car to drive.It was very different to anything I’ve driven before, mainly because of the turbo which took a bit of getting used to compared to my 1600cc R2. It was nice to be part of the team for the day, everyone made me feel very welcome and the technicians were very impressive. It is a great outfit.”

Jordan Reynolds: “The R2T was a definite step up for me after being used to the older Fiesta R2, but it felt more comfortable to drive as the torque from the engine just pulls you out from any potential moments. The test was a very good day with a great atmosphere; everyone was chatting about all things rallying, and the mechanics were at hand to answer any questions I had about the car which was really helpful.”

Markus Manninen: “The R2T is very different from my old Fiesta 1600cc R2. The dampers and suspension feels much better, also the brakes also feel more sensitive and more efficient. The biggest difference is the engine! You can feel it when you accelerate to uphill. It just keeps going. The feeling was good and there was good atmosphere. I think team have good future. Always need good humour (in this sport) (which is) what they have.”

Image credits: Stanislav Kucera

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