Is there a better way of celebrating a car factory’s birthday than having a rally car rip around it, Gymkhana-style?
Of course there isn’t. So Ford of Romania did exactly that to mark the 40th anniversary of its production facility in Craiova. And it’s pretty epic. Not far off Ken Block levels of epicness, in fact.
Local hero Simone Tempestini is the man at the wheel of the Fiesta R5 rally machine. The 22-year-old won his second consecutive Romanian Rally Championship title this year in the R5, and found the time to claim both the Junior and WRC3 crowns in the World Rally Championship with a R2-spec Fiesta.
The Craiova plant was originally built in 1976 as the base for local automaker Oltcit, a joint venture with Citroen. It was bought by Daewoo in the mid-1990s and produced several of the South Korean company’s models for the local market. It stumbled on for a few years after General Motors acquired Daewoo, continuing to build badly outdated models like the Matiz and Nubira, having been denied access to more up-to-date products. And export markets.
Ford stepped in to rescue the plant in 2008, which started turning out the Transit Connect van. Since 2012, it has been the sole source of the slow-selling, Fiesta-based B-MAX minivan, and the second-generation EcoSport crossover will be built there for the European market from next year.
As would expect of any good Gymkhana film, there are many, many donuts, a few brushes with objects much more solid than a Fiesta rally car, a couple of ginormous jumps, and lots and lots of smoke. Not just tire smoke, either. There’s a few canisters on the rear wing putting out smoke in the colors of the Romanian flag.
My favorite bit, though, is a magnificently sketchy leap onto a raised lawn from an oddly angled concrete ramp.