BP–Ford debuts new Focus RS World Rally Car in Finland.
New Focus RS World Rally Car

Reigning FIA World Rally champion BP–Ford will strengthen its challenge for the 2007 manufacturers’ and drivers’ titles when the latest specification Focus RS World Rally Car makes its debut in Finland next month. The Focus RS WRC 07 features improvements in several key areas and will be piloted by Marcus Grönholm and Timo Rautiainen and team–mates Mikko Hirvonen and Jarmo Lehtinen on all eight remaining rounds of the 2007 championship.

Four victories on the opening eight rounds of the series have enabled BP–Ford World Rally Team to build a 28–point lead in the manufacturers’ series in the quest to retain its 2006 title. Grönholm is nine points clear in the drivers’ standings.

The new car is an evolution of the hugely successful 2006 version with development principally concentrating on the engine, bodyshell and weight saving. The work has been led by Christian Loriaux, the team’s innovative technical director based at M–Sport – the British–based company which handles the day–to–day operations of the team in partnership with Ford.

The car has been tested by both drivers in Italy, Spain and Finland in advance of its debut on Rally Finland (2 – 5 August), round nine of the 2007 championship.

"The opening half of the season has been successful for us," said Jost Capito, director of Ford TeamRS and responsible for the Blue Oval’s European motorsport programmes. "The 2006 car won 12 of the 25 rallies it started, which is a remarkable strike rate, and one that we would like to emulate with the new car during the second part of the season.

"We’re confident that the 2007 Focus RS WRC will bring improvements in several key areas. The regulations mean it is impossible to find huge leaps forward when our car is already so technologically advanced. But any performance improvements are always a welcome boost and I believe that Christian and his team have introduced developments that will strengthen our challenge during the final eight rallies of the championship," he added.

BP–Ford team director Malcolm Wilson said both drivers were pleased with the upgrades. "Both Marcus and Mikko have completed plenty of kilometres in testing and they are encouraged. Our designers and engineers have worked extremely hard behind the scenes and they are pleased with the car. There are few visible modifications on the outside but it is underneath the skin where most of the changes are found and I’m looking forward to seeing the rewards in Finland and beyond," he said.

"It is important not to think of the Focus RS WRC 07 as a new car in the same way that the 2003 or 2006 models were," added Loriaux. "This is an evolution of the car that won the 2006 manufacturers’ world title and which has taken BP–Ford into such a strong position in the 2007 championship. Much of our thinking has concentrated on weight, and the modifications we have introduced save almost 20kg. This allows us to position ballast in the areas where we want to distribute the weight to maximise the handling and balance of the car.

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