FOCUS RS MK2
With its eye-catching livery, rally-inspired upgrades, and ferocious five-pot powerplant, this Focus RS is a true road racer
Rally-inspired 400bhp RS takes its lead from the mighty EsCos.
We’ve seen Ian (Ely) Wright’s rally-inspired RS on the show scene for a few years now, and although its eye-catching Michelin livery has become familiar, the car has been constantly evolving throughout that time. Ely has now prepared his RS to a stage where he’s happy for it to appear in his favourite mag (Fast Ford, of course!), though he openly admits it’ll probably never be fully finished!
His rally inspired Focus stems back to the
days when Ely watched a Lombard RAC rally and he’s been hooked on this hardcore form of motorsport ever since. “I’ve always loved rallying and rally-spec cars, especially the Fords,” Ely smiles, “I’ve read Fast Ford since the first issue.” His first car may have been a lowly Mk1 Fiesta 1.1 Popular but that soon received a more potent 1300 Supersport engine transplant along with a full respray and bucket seats. “My CB handle (if you remember those?) at the time was Furry Dice, so I always had furry dice hanging from the rear view mirror!” he laughs. An immaculate XR3i came next later followed by a fully-loaded Cougar 2.5 V6 – a car which he kept hold of for eight years. Other cars and bikes (which happens to be Ely’s other main passion) came and went, but it was after the purchase of this 2009 Focus RS that the modding really went into overdrive.
“I bought this one-owner Performance Blue RS from Derby, it was in great condition,” Ely recalls, “hardly anything needed doing to it other than getting rid of the strong smell of perfume inside!” This is Focus RS number 198 from 11500, so it’s quite an early example and at first Ely had no intentions of modifying it at all. “Then I went to my first show with the RST club and saw Gareth Westwood’s beast with its carefully chosen mods and spotless engine bay,” he remembers, “Paul Markham’s immaculate ST really stood out and won the best car on our stand that day, but the car that really had a major influence was Richard Scott’s fully rally inspired RS –
seeing that car really blew me away!”
Having now witnessed the RS’s potential as a full-on replica rally car, Ely knew this was the direction he would take his own Focus. The addition of mods began modestly with a Cobra Sport ‘Venom’ exhaust, a tracker (for added security) and 20mm wheel spacers. Things soon got more serious with a Stage 4 intercooler from Airtec, Anembo inlet plenum, and a Stage 2 map to around 360bhp by G&R Performance. “I had a full engine bay hydro-dip in blue and black and sourced some anodised coloured bolts with RS logos to brighten it up for shows,” Ely adds. Attention then turned to the interior with digital dials positioned on the A pillar while 20in Zito rims set this RS apart from standard examples.
Progress was swift, but Ely’s RS still retained the appearance of a modified road car as opposed to a rally car for the road. “I wanted the Focus to really stand out and it was Malcolm Wilson’s Escort Cosworth rally car I took inspiration from, though it was Ryan Taylor who helpfully suggested the livery” he explains, “I then approached Blueprint to see if they could provide a Michelin Pilot livery with similar graphics to the Wilson Escort.” As ever, they came up trumps and provided a sunshine yellow wrap adapted for the Focus which contrasts perfectly with the rear, which keeps its original Performance Blue.
To complement the fresh wrap there’s now an imposing WRC 4-spot light pod with carbon surround bolted to the bonnet, while at the rear is a full WRC wing painted in gloss black with logos, and rear wiper now deleted. Already the RS was beginning to turn heads and gradually Ely has added a KMS roof scoop alongside the KMS camera pod and WRC vents to help with cooling. “I also had front and rear splitters and side skirts wrapped to match,” Ely adds, “and more recently I’ve had polycarbonate side windows fitted with WRC sliders.”
The RS’s exterior has such a huge impact at first glance it’s easy to ignore the
“I wanted the Focus to really stand out and it was Malcolm Wilson’s Escort Cosworth rally car I took inspiration from...”
details and there are plenty of them! The bespoke rear diffuser, ‘fly-eye’ headlights, yellow light eyebrows and Michelin man bonnet stay are all neat additions. And it’s easy to miss those cool carbon fibre 3D digits on the number plates too, an unusual mix of old-meets-new.
By now the Zito rims were beginning to look out of place with the convincing rally look and when Ely was offered the chance to buy a set of 18in Fifteen52 Turbomacs in white, he knew they’d look right at home on his rally-style RS. “The tyre wall is thicker now too, and with Michelin rubber it handles like a go kart,” Ely laughs.
Since the fitment of the digital gauges, the interior has seen some dramatic changes too. A Peltor full intercom system with headphones was an early purchase before Ely had the dash flocked and door cards replaced with black carbonate. All dials and vent surrounds are now colour coded yellow and Michelin Pilot dials added. Nothing major yet you may be thinking, but Ely was keen to continue the rally theme in a big way inside too, after all this is where he’d be spending much of his time with the car. The rear seats have now departed to be replaced by a false floor and matching carpet, room enough to fit a bespoke rear roll cage again in yellow. “I’d fitted a Summit front strut brace to help stiffen up the front end, but I also wanted the cage to stiffen up the rear end of the chassis and had it welded on to the struts,” Ely tells us, “I also needed to be able to unbolt it if I ever needed to put the rear seats back in, so some fabrication work was needed.” The standard steering wheel has been replaced by a detachable OMP wheel and boss, but it’s that CAE quickshifter that’s a true work of art and really transforms the interior and driving feel. Clever additions are the bespoke headrests, made from spotlight covers filled with foam for extra padding and attached by Velcro through the seat covers which Ely often uses.
Having 360bhp on tap certainly isn’t
shy, but as we so often hear, Ely had become used to the power and was searching for more. A carbon fibre cold air intake is now in place while Airtec supplied the crossover pipe and latest intercooler. The addition of 550cc injectors and a remap now see this RS producing around 400bhp, though we’re pretty sure this is likely to increase in the near future. A sensible purchase was the stronger Sachs clutch which should cope with the extra power. The Venom turboback exhaust still provides the soundtrack, but that could soon give way to a KMS Section 18 system. “Other changes likely soon are a swap to BC Racing coilovers, and swapping the standard mirrors to smaller GTR ones.” Ely points out. Then there’s the bigger brakes and new WRC rear wing… like we said, this car is constantly evolving!
Some RS purists might frown upon the changes Ely has made to his Focus, but the positive reactions the car usually receives confirms he’s done the right thing and we’d agree too. “Having people compliment my car, young and old seems to keep me going and helps to push things forward,” Ely tells us, “I don’t do this to gain favour or win trophies, the social side of shows is as important to me as the cars themselves. Project budgets and commitments vary so much, I tend to look at all cars equally. It’s great to see people from all walks of life getting out there and becoming involved.”
Undoubtedly by the time the 2019 season begins, Ely’s RS will have seen yet more changes, but as far as creating an eye-catching road-going rally replica is concerned, we reckon he’s already there.
Custom ‘Michelin Pilot’ dash is a nice touch Digital gauges live on a flocked A-pillar pod
CAE shifter looks the part and makes you feel like a rally driver every time you change gear
With a livery like this, what tyres did you expect!? The engine bay is nicely dressed, but don’t be fooled - there’s still the best part of 400bhp lurking in there!
Even the fire extinguisher has been colour-coded! Rear cage has been customised to suit Ely’s requirements