The Ford Focus RS WRC is a car built for the Ford World Rally Team by Ford Europe and M-Sport and based on the Ford Focus Climate 2-litre production hatchback, developed to compete in the World Rally Championship. The RS stands for Rallye Sport and the WRC for World Rally Car, the car's FIA specification. The Focus RS WRC was in competition from 1999 to 2010, winning 44 world rallies and two manufacturers' world titles (2006 and 2007). It was replaced by the Ford Fiesta RS WRC.
Like all contemporary World Rally Cars, the car is heavily modified from the production version, with which it shares only the basic shape and some parts of the bodyshell. The car features four-wheel drive, rather than the front-wheel drive of the road car. The engine used in the 2007 Focus WRC is based onFord's 2.0 Litre Duratec from other models in the Focus range as rallying rules do not permit the standard 2.5-litre engine of the Focus ST or road going RS. As with most rally cars, the 2.0-litre engine is heavily modified and performance was increased using a turbocharger. The 2009 Ford Focus RS WRC uses a Ford 1998cc Pipo built l4 Duratec WRC engine (four cylinders, 16 valves, bore 85 mm and stroke 88 mm), Pi electronic engine management system, Garrett turbocharger (with required 34 mm inlet restrictor), air intercooler, and a catalytic converter.
The car's transmission is a permanent four-wheel drive with M-Sport designed active centre differential, Pi electronic differential control units, M-Sport/Ricardo five-speed sequential gearbox with electro-hydraulically controlled shift and an M-Sport/Sachs multi-disc carbon clutch.
The first version of the car was built in 1999 to replace the Ford Escort WRC. It debuted in the Monte Carlo Rally with Colin McRae and Simon Jean-Joseph behind the wheels of the two cars. It was immediately on the pace, setting many fastest stage times, but the use of an illegal water pump meant that the two cars were excluded from the event. McRae gave the Focus its first win two events later on the Safari Rally Kenya finishing over 15 minutes ahead of the second placed Toyota of Didier Auriol.
In 2003, Ford released a newly designed Focus RS WRC, named Focus RS WRC 03, for competition during the second part of the season. The car, with most parts redesigned from the ground up, featured a lighter body shell and a new aerodynamically enhanced front bumper and wing. Markko Märtin drove the car to two world rally victories. The 2004 and 2005 Focus RS WRCs were evolutions based on the RS WRC 03. The Focus RS WRC 04 won three events with Märtin at the wheel. By 2005, the car was no longer very competitive and Ford had a winless season.
From the last rally of the 2005 season, Ford campaigned a brand new model, the Focus RS WRC 06, following the launch of the new road-going version of the car. The engine chosen for this Focus was a Duratec motor developed by the French engine specialist Pipo Moteur. The car took twelve world rally wins, starting with the 2006 season opener Monte Carlo Rallyin the hands of Marcus Grönholm.
The Focus RS WRC 07 is based on the 2006 model, and according to Ford's technical director Christian Loriaux "the changes on the new car are mainly to save weight and to improve efficiency, driveability and performance at the bottom end of the range." The car debuted very successfully at the 2007 Rally Finland as Ford's Finns Grönholm and Mikko Hirvonen finished in first and second. It later made history at the 2008 Swedish Rally when Jari-Matti Latvala used the car to become youngest-ever driver to win a world rally.
The Focus RS WRC 08 is based on the 2007 model. The Focus WRC 08 was in competition for the first time with its new front aero design at the 2008 Rallye Deutschland. The 2008 version of the Focus RS WRC includes design style changes as well as engine improvements. Style changes to the grill area reflect the looks of the recently previewed Focus RS Mk II road sport car. The 2008 RS WRC was driven to its only victory at the 2008 Rally Japan.
The 2009 version of the Focus RS WRC debuted at the 2009 Rally d'Italia Sardegna, leading Ford to a 1-2. It includes small design style changes. Style changes were made to the lights frame and rear bumper to bring the look closer to the Focus RS Mk II 2009 road sport car. The 2009 Focus RS WRC remained the last of Ford's WRC cars based on the Focus. It was replaced by the Ford Fiesta RS WRC after the 2010 season.
The Ford Focus RS WRC appeared in 173 World Rally Championship events, winning 44 and collecting 142 podium places.
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