M-Sport Ford World Rally Team’s EcoBoost-powered Ford Fiesta WRCs will be back in action this week as the FIA World Rally Championship resumes at Rally Estonia – almost six months after the global pandemic brought world sport to a standstill.

Hosting the return of top-flight rallying, the Estonian fixture, which starts on Friday, has been organised in line with new guidelines set out by the FIA and Estonian Government. Strict protocols to ensure a safe and successful return include mandatory testing, use of face coverings, social distancing and the creation of groups to minimise risk.

As a new event in a new-look 2020 calendar, Estonia becomes the 33rd country to host a round of the FIA World Rally Championship and is famed for its blisteringly-fast, high-speed, stages.

M-Sport team principal, Richard Millener, said: “It’s great to be going rallying again. I have certainly missed the action – so much so that I got behind the wheel myself on the M-Sport Return to Rally Stages in Greystoke last week.

"It was good fun and I didn’t embarrass myself, but not in the same league as these guys and I think we’re all looking forward to seeing them blasting through the forests once more.

“This rally is going to be the blueprint for all future FIA World Rally Championship events, and I have to say that the organisers have done a fantastic job in ensuring its safe and successful running.

"Everything has been considered and planned, and it’s thanks to the hard work of so many behind the scenes that we’re able to get this fantastic sport back up and running.

Having finished on the podium at Estonia’s WRC Promotional event last year, Esapekka Lappi and co-driver Janne Ferm have experience of the Estonian stages which are not too dissimilar from those in their native Finland.

Esapekka Lappi said: “It’s been a long time away from the action, so I’m really looking forward to getting back behind the wheel. I was at Estonia’s WRC Promotional event last year and the stages are really nice. They’re quite similar to Finland in some ways, and even faster in some places so the pace is going to be pretty much flat out!

“We know that we’re not in the same position as the other teams and we’ve not had the opportunity to do the same level of testing, but I did manage to drive Lõuna-Eesti Ralli which was really good fun.

"It was important to get that seat time, and our main objective next week will be to get back out there, get back up to speed, and enjoy rallying again.”