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Ford Breaks Cover on Focus Rally Challenger

17 October 2005

Ford Breaks Cover on Focus Rally Challenger

Ford TeamRS Australia has confirmed the technical specifications for its all-new Focus that will debut in the Globalstar Australia Rally Championship (GARC) at the Bathurst Rally New South Wales from 28-30 October.

Built to Australian Group N (P) regulations, the Focus is rear-wheel-drive with a 2.3 litre normally aspirated (non-turbo charged) in-line, 4-cylinder, 16-valve, twin-cam Duratec engine. Drive is delivered through a six-speed sequential transmission.

Ford TeamRS Australia has elected not to go down the four-wheel-drive turbo-charged route; instead taking advantage of a larger capacity engine and weight savings permitted with a rear-wheel drive system.

The Focus has been designed and built for the current, as well as future regulations, to allow plenty of scope in case of changes to the sport, highlighting Ford's commitment to the GARC is long term.

"This is an exciting time for Ford and the sport of rallying in Australia," said Ford Racing Manager Ross Booth.

"Ford's rally program has been in the pipe line for a number of years, with the late Howard Marsden being the original architect of the project.

"Our team has been working constantly since the start of the year on the Group N (P) Focus, we are now in a position to show the car and declare its specification.

"The car looks and sounds spectacular. We will be a popular addition to the rally landscape.

"We don't want to make bold predictions at this stage, as we are still very much in our development phase with the car. The best of this car will be seen as we proceed through the 2006 season.

"The TeamRS program has generated a lot of interest in Australia and indeed around the world. In 2006 we will have some very good partners on board to make sure we are well supported financially and technically."

In explaining the reasons for the technical make-up of the car, Ford Racing Engineering Manager Steve Hoinville also outlined the rationale for the delay in announcing the technical package.

"We are confident that it's the right direction for Ford at present, and that we will be a challenger in the Globalstar Australian Rally Championship," said Hoinville.

"Running a four-wheel-drive system would have been a tough option for us, as we don't have any such system in our current Focus vehicle line-up. We would have had to source it from a much older and obsolete vehicle. Clearly this was not the best approach.

"We certainly do not underestimate the task ahead. Our return to the GARC after so many years will be a difficult one. With this in mind our strategy has been to develop a simple, but robust vehicle that is more dependant on drivability than on ultimate power. Hence the reason for a normally aspirated engine.

"The build and assembly of this, the first car, has been a steep learning curve for us. The lessons we have already learned will allow us to further improve subsequent cars, as well as save considerable time in their production.

"The use of a six-speed sequential gearbox is unique in the GARC field. It will be of some advantage in terms of delivering power to the road with added reliability.

"We have now finalised the specification of our car with CAMS (Confederation of Australian Motor Sport). Until this was done, we were not in a position to announce all the details on the car.

"Now we can look forward to further testing and our debut at Bathurst."

Driver Michael Guest is looking forward to getting the best out of the car.

"As much as I'm looking forward to the Bathurst event, it's the off-season testing where we will be able to turn the car into a truly competitive animal," said Guest.

"I know that we have a lot of work ahead of us, but this is a very good group of people who know what they are doing.

"The new Focus is not just a great looking car; it's also a very strong car technically. The handling is outstanding and with added power of the larger capacity engine it will be something to watch.

"The chance to see a rear-wheel drive car will make it popular for the spectators and the sound from the normally aspirated engine will make it stand out from the opposition.

"I've seen what Ford in Australia has done with its V8 Supercar program and I'm sure they can do the same with rallying. I can't wait to be part of the Blue Oval brigade."

Ford will show the car off to the public on Sunday 23 October at the International Motor Show in Sydney.

Michael Guest and co-driver Mark Stacey will take part in reconnaissance for the Bathurst Rally New South Wales later that week.

Ford Focus Group N(P) rally car

Technical Specification

Engine: 2282cc Duratec engine. Four cylinders in line, DOHC, 16 valves, cast aluminium cylinder head and block. MoTeC electronic multipoint fuel injection.

Power: 208kW at 7000rpm

Torque: 275Nm at 6000rpm

Transmission: Six-speed sequential – rear-wheel-drive.

Suspension: Revised front and rear knuckles. Adjustable dampers with revised spring rates.

Front: MacPherson Strut with lower arm.
Rear: Multi link suspension.
Adjustable dampers with revised spring rates.

Brakes: Brembo discs and callipers.

Wheels: Gravel: 15in OZ Racing wheels

Bodyshell: Multipoint roll cage, complying with CAMS regulations.

Fuel tank: ATL 60-litre Fuel cell with carbon / Kevlar moulded guard.

Dimensions: Length: 4342mm. Width: 1991mm. Height: 1500mm. Wheelbase: 2655mm.

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