FORD FOCUS RS RX
As rallycross has grown exponentially since new promoter IMG took over at the start of 2013 and turned the discipline into a World Championship a year later, a number of manufacturers have become involved in the sport and pushed the technology in the 600bhp cars to progress.
But, while progress has been made in suspension, transmission and engine technology, not many of the new cars could be considered game changers. That is until M-sport and Ford Performance introduced the Ford Focus RS RX for 2016, giving a new dynamic to rallycross tech. And, not only is the RS RX home to exciting new tech, but it also serves a purpose that hasn’t been common place in the dual-surface discipline previously, to market a brand new road car.
It’s for that reason that Ken Block’s Hoonigan Racing Division squad are campaigning the Focus RS RX in World RX this season, despite it being considerably larger than the models most commonly chosen for rallycross and suggested by many pre-season that it would be ‘too big’.
There is still a perception that top-flight rallycross cars are built in sheds, usually in Scandinavia, but this creation is the polar opposite of that. The Focus was born on both sides of the Atlantic, a collaborative effort between Ford Performance and M-sport. The RS RX utilises a bespoke transmission from Sadev, mounted transversely in the engine bay, attached to an in-house M-sport developed engine. Underneath, the car is the only World RX Supercar using double-wishbone suspension with a transverse engine as part of a whole new philosophy as to the best compromise for start line performance over on-track efficiency on the Tarmac and loose.
Inside, the Focus features a ‘smart’ steering wheel, developed between M-sport and Cosworth, the concept not an insignificant move to making the machines more user-friendly.
To top it all, this car isn’t an evolution of a previous model, it went from blank canvas to debut in just nine months, and was a double event winner three months further down the gravel-strewn road. This is just the start of a long-term project for Block’s team but given its reasons for conception, the execution and performance so far, this could go down as one of the most significant cars of the era. Hal Ridge