New Zealand Classic Car - - AUTOMOBILIA -

Gra­ham Rob­son

Pub­lished 2017 by Ve­loce, which sup­plied the re­view copy ISBN 978-1-787110-20-5

Re­viewed by: Mark Hol­man See­ing the name ‘Gra­ham Rob­son’ as the au­thor of a book about ral­ly­ing is a good sign, and this one lives up to ex­pec­ta­tions. Cov­er­ing the 1999–2010 sea­sons, he gives the fullest pic­ture of this suc­cess­ful World Rally Cham­pi­onship ( WRC) Blue Oval car.

Start­ing with the fi­nal days of the Es­corts, the book then cov­ers the de­vel­op­ment of the newly in­tro­duced Fo­cus as a rally car, in par­al­lel with the growth of Mal­colm Wil­son’s team. Each sea­son is cov­ered in turn, along with the changes to car specs, driv­ers, and other key team per­son­nel.

It’s not that long ago, but I think that the Fo­cus looks a lot more like the pro­duc­tion ver­sion than to­day’s be-winged WRC cars do. None­the­less, un­der the skin, it was a dif­fer­ent beast, and Rob­son’s book takes you through the var­i­ous changes made to keep the model com­pet­i­tive. Along the way were many chal­lenges, in­clud­ing Ford’s lack of long-term fi­nan­cial com­mit­ment, at times; a reg­u­lar turnover of driv­ers; and strong com­pe­ti­tion from the likes of Citroën. Colin Mcrae was a star, but he be­came too ex­pen­sive to re­tain. Other top Fo­cus driv­ers in­cluded Car­los Sainz, Mikko Hir­vo­nen, Markko Märtin, and Mar­cus Grön­holm. The first WRC win for a Fo­cus was Mcrae’s in the 1999 Sa­fari Rally, and the last of its 44 vic­to­ries came in Fin­land in 2010 with Jari-matti Lat­vala at the wheel. That’s a long ca­reer for a com­pe­ti­tion car, and this book gives an ex­cel­lent and well-il­lus­trated ac­count of the Fo­cus’s ral­ly­ing ups and downs through­out those sea­sons.

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