Ford's New Rally Challenger
Launched at 2005 Bologna Motor Show



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Ford Focus RS World Rally Car '06
Ford Focus RS World Rally Car '06

ON 30/12/05
OF 2005

You'll see it
after midday

5th December, 2005

Ford of Europe has unveiled the all-new Ford Focus RS World Rally Car 06 at the Bologna Motor Show in Italy. The car will be Ford's challenger in the FIA World Rally Championship from 2006 onwards and was unveiled in the eye-catching livery in which it will make its full competitive debut in January's Monte Carlo Rally.

The new Focus RS WRC 06 has been designed and built in less than 11 months by an experienced and innovative engineering team led by Christian Loriaux, technical director at British-based company M-Sport which operates the Blue Oval's WRC programme. His team has worked closely in the development with Ford TeamRS, Ford of Europe's performance road car and racing arm.

Four-year commitment
Just over 12 months ago in Brussels, Ford of Europe announced a four-year commitment to the World Rally Championship, confirming the sport as the company's primary racing activity. A key aspect of that agreement was the introduction of an all-new Focus RS WRC based on the new-generation road car. It continues a family tradition that has seen the model provide the backbone of Ford's racing activity since 1999.

The all-new rally car unveiled in Bologna will be driven in the 2006 championship by double world champions Marcus Grönholm and Timo Rautiainen and fellow Finns Mikko Hirvonen and Jarmo Lehtinen.

"Twelve months ago Ford carried out a long and comprehensive review into the racing scene and the company's involvement in it," said Jost Capito, Director of Ford TeamRS. "It showed there was a strong business case for Ford's continued involvement and proposals from the sport's governing body to reduce the costs of competing in the WRC encouraged us to continue long-term."

Capito added: "What we have unveiled this is Ford's future in the WRC. We have a strong and experienced team operating from world-class facilities at M-Sport's Dovenby Hall premises. Now we have the car that we believe will carry us forward to new levels of competitiveness and a driving team that is capable of bringing world titles to Ford."

All-new design
Following in the footsteps of the 2003 Focus RS WRC, the new car incorporates the latest technology and benefits from pioneering design ideas from Loriaux and his 14-man M-Sport-based team. They had access to computer-aided design facilities and shared information and analysis with mainstream Ford engineers across Europe in their quest to design a winning car.

The transition from the outgoing rally car to the new model, which had to be designed with radical regulation changes for 2006 in mind, required a clean sheet of paper from the start. The previous model was highly successful in its own right, but the team worked to a brief that demanded improvements in key areas such as engine, transmission and suspension. A crucial priority was to achieve weight savings, an arduous task as the base model was heavier than the base for the previous Focus RS WRC and new regulations banned the widespread use of titanium.

After successful initial testing in Britain, the team moved to the second level of the car's test and development programme by taking two cars to last month's Rally Australia to evaluate it in a competitive environment for the first time. It was rewarded with victory on two speed tests and a sixth place finish.

The introduction of the Ford Focus RS WRC 06 presented M-Sport and Ford TeamRS with a string of challenges and opportunities – not only because of the new model itself, but because in 2006 rallying is introducing a series of technical changes designed to reduce cost. The design team had to keep a close eye on these rule changes throughout the 11-month development of the car.

"Everyone involved in the programme has worked incredibly long hours to ensure the new Focus RS WRC met its build targets," said BP-Ford team director Malcolm Wilson. "It was a tight schedule and we made it even tighter by taking the decision to test the car on Rally Australia. We're delighted with the way it performed there and we gained data which will prove valuable in our preparations for the 2006 season.

"It is unrealistic to expect us to win a world title next year. The car is too new for that. But I fervently believe that we will win rallies and lay a solid platform for a world championship bid in 2007 and 2008. In Marcus Grönholm and Mikko Hirvonen we have signed two drivers with the ability to maximise the potential of the Focus RS WRC 06. Behind the scenes, we have the strongest infrastructure in place at M-Sport, both in terms of personnel and facilities, since we took over the programme at the end of 1996 and that gives me the confidence to predict an extremely bright future," he added.

Ford Focus RS World Rally Car '06
Ford Focus RS World Rally Car '06


The Ford Focus RS WRC 06 that will contest the 2006 FIA World Rally Championship has been conceived, designed, built and developed in a staggeringly short space of time. Less than 12 months after Ford reconfirmed its long-term commitment to world rallying, the Focus RS WRC 06 made its debut and set fastest stage times on Rally Australia, the closing round of the 2005 championship.

How did BP-Ford World Rally Team technical director Christian Loriaux and his team of designers and engineers at M-Sport and Ford TeamRS manage this feat? This timeline explains how they condensed a project that might have taken 18 months into less than 12 – and set technical benchmarks along the way:

November 2004
Ford of Europe confirms its commitment to the FIA World Rally Championship until 2008. In the vast workshops of M-Sport there are celebrations. And yet, at the same time, the team knows it will have barely a year to produce a brand new car, fit for new regulations that involve complex changes to the specification. The hard work is just beginning.

At M-Sport’s Dovenby Hall base in north-west England, technical director Christian Loriaux and his 14-man team set up base in a closed-off area of the factory. There they will have access to computer-aided design facilities that will allow the team to share information and to analyse data with Ford engineers across Europe. They also support the testing of parts and theories on an extreme hydraulic rig.

All development work on the 2004-specification Focus RS WRC has ceased. Instead, Loriaux and his team will work solely towards the debut of the new-shape Focus RS WRC in time for the 2006 season.

January 2005
Loriaux has had access to design drawings of the new Ford Focus road car for a few weeks and the team begins to start work in earnest. They soon realise that as with the road-going Focus, the transition from current rally model to new will involve precious little carryover. “You’d think with only nine months for the project that we’d be taking over a lot of the current car,” he says. “But we’ve got elements like a brand new engine and a brand new transmission, and those are big bits on a rally car. There are a lot of key areas where we will see a big jump from the current car in terms of ideas and solutions.”

After consultation with Ford TeamRS, the new car will be based on the forthcoming three-door Focus ST model, although World Rally Car rules will allow the team to use an all-alloy Duratec 2.0-litre engine from elsewhere in the Focus range, instead of the ST’s 2.5-litre five-cylinder unit. The evolution of road car design, most notably the increased size of the new-shape Focus, presents Loriaux and his engineers with an interesting challenge – using a larger car but keeping the overall weight to a minimum.

In addition, new rules to be introduced in 2006 mean the car will not be permitted to use computer-controlled ‘active’ front and rear differentials. M-Sport’s transmission partner, Ricardo, starts work on concepts for the solution, in close collaboration with M-Sport's own transmission engineer.

February 2005
M-Sport’s designers are in constant contact with Ford TeamRS and Ford engineers in Cologne, Germany, and Dunton, England.

Ford’s road car engineers have the powerful ADAMS software model at their disposal, and it is proving a useful tool as Loriaux and his team strive to come up with the best concept for the new car’s layout.

“I know what I want in terms of suspension kinematics for the car,” says Loriaux. “With the ADAMS model we liaise with Ford in Germany and they can supply us with useful information. We tell them where we’re allowed to fit suspension points under the rules, for example, and give them my ‘menu’ of what I want to achieve and they come back with a solution. Of course, there are always compromises to be made and with the ADAMS model they’re able to make me aware of them and of other potential solutions.”

Loriaux’s team begins an intensive period of exchanging data on the position of the engine, gearbox, differentials, suspension, fuel tank and driver and co-driver with Ford personnel in Cologne.

March 2005
M-Sport starts to develop a radical theory – and one that makes its already-tough deadline look even harsher. Instead of the Focus RS WRC making its debut in Monte Carlo 2006, the team decides to aim for a 'test' debut on the closing round of the 2005 season in Australia. The decision is made more complex because the long-haul nature of the event forces an extra week of travel time to be factored into the schedule.

Loriaux and his team now need to have the car running – testing, in anger and preferably on loose surfaces – by mid-October. The ADAMS software model work continues – and M-Sport also has a three-door Focus bodyshell on a jig to assess the stiffness and performance of various roll cage options.

April 2005
Work with Ford TeamRS and the Cologne road car department leads to the basic concept being finalised by late spring. It emerges that the car will use a transverse gearbox, a more conventional system compared with the radical solution fitted to all Focus WRCs since 1999. “We think the advantages in weight distribution and loss of friction make it worthwhile to go transverse,” says Loriaux.

May 2005
A new 10-tonne hydraulic actuator arrives and is swiftly put to good use, hammering suspension and chassis parts to test the theories in a monitored, controlled situation. This way, M-Sport engineers are able to corroborate the data provided by Ford TeamRS engineers, proving the theories and finalising the basic layout. A three-door bodyshell is now under preparation and the roll cage design is all-but-finalised. Layout is one thing - the detail work starts here.

June 2005
The toughest month for M-Sport’s design team. If the Focus RS WRC is to run in September and be ready for its target of Rally Australia in mid-November, they need to finalise the detail design work on many of its parts this month. As such, late nights in the office become commonplace, with no-one leaving before midnight. “It’s been hell,” admits Loriaux. “I feel for the guys because they know the end of the project is in sight but they have to get through the toughest part of it now if it’s all going to happen.”

Loriaux is keeping a close eye on suppliers to ensure parts will arrive on schedule, ready to be fitted once the first fully-prepared roll cage is available. The cage has already passed one important test, though – inspectors from motorsport’s governing body, the FIA, have approved its design and safety in a two-part examination. And the first version of the new engine has arrived back from M-Sport’s development partner, Pipo Moteur in France.

Using a multi-million pound transient dynamometer, the team’s own engine specialists start to analyse performance and suggest modifications. In the end, a new crankshaft design is suggested, potentially delaying the engine by a month.

While development of the Focus RS WRC 04 has ceased, competition in the 2005 world championship has not. Loriaux uses this to his advantage by trying some of the 2006-specification suspension parts on a current car during testing for the notoriously rough Acropolis Rally in Greece.

July 2005
Designers continue to rack up long hours – their work continues to keep them in the office until midnight. The first components start to arrive. The Rally Australia deadline is still looming large and although M-Sport has caught up ground on its delay, non-design staff are also hard at work until 11pm every working day.

August 2005
Loriaux spots a potential delay. M-Sport and Ford TeamRS engineers have spent much of the summer finalising the new car’s rear suspension design, but while they are delighted with the results of their collaboration, the time taken to reach a decision means that delivery of the rear uprights is going to be perilously close to the deadline for testing pre-Rally Australia.

Accordingly, M-Sport starts a separate build process on a back-up design, using its in-house machining capabilities to carve parts directly from a 60kg block of aluminium. “We can’t take the risk that this part will delay the project,” says Loriaux. “A car with two front wheels and nothing at the rear won’t be much use as we try to get ready for Australia.”

September 2005
The first bodyshell arrives, so M-Sport’s mechanics can finally start to fit the relatively small stockpile of parts that are already prepared. A mock-up of the Focus’ 2.0-litre engine arrives early in the month – it allows engineers to check its dimensions and all connections. However, M-Sport had set itself a target of having the car running before the end of September, and while a working motor arrives on schedule, its timing is tight. Determined to reach their goal, engineers complete the final elements of the basic installation late in the evening of September 30. In the dead of night, the car fires up for the first time. The Focus RS WRC is still restricted to M-Sport’s workshops, but it is now a running car.

October 2005
In the first week of October, and again under cover of darkness, M-Sport engineers give the Focus RS WRC 06 its first taste of the outdoors by driving slowly around the company car park. The following week, the car is taken to Kirkbride Airfield in Cumbria for its initial shakedown. Engineers, including Loriaux himself, and M-Sport managing director Malcolm Wilson are there to help with the initial mileage. It proves encouraging enough for M-Sport to change its early testing plans – a proposed first asphalt test is replaced by an immediate switch onto gravel.

On October 18, with double British rally champion Mark Higgins behind the wheel, the Focus RS WRC 06 starts its first serious test in Whinlatter Forest, Cumbria. It goes on to compete almost 500km during its first three days, and more than 200km the following week.

Higgins is encouraged by the initial mileage. “The main aim is to rack up mileage before Rally Australia to identify any major shortcomings,” he says, “and it’s good that we’ve been able to do so much of that straight out of the box. Sometimes with a new car you lose days at a time but while we’ve had to keep an eye on progress and bear in mind that this car is scheduled to go to Rally Australia, we’ve still been able to push hard enough to find out a lot about how the car’s going to behave on the stages.”

Loriaux is thrilled at the car’s early performance, but knows that sterner tests lie ahead. “I can hardly believe we’ve managed to get the car running so quickly, from a blank design board to here in only 10 months,” he says. “But at the same time, I look at the car and I can’t imagine it’s going to Australia in a couple of weeks. We desperately want to get the mileage in competition because you can’t substitute for that experience, but it’s going to be tough.”

November 2005
With fewer than 1,000 kilometres of gravel running to analyse on engineers’ laptops, two examples of the Focus RS WRC 06 are shipped to Australia for the final round of the 2005 FIA World Rally Championship. Ford and M-Sport view the event as an extended test session for the car, since neither driver – Toni Gardemeister or Roman Kresta – has conducted any of the initial mileage.

Despite this, the car performs with relatively few problems and both drivers manage to set a fastest time – even though the 2006-specification transmission on the car is, in theory, less technically advanced than those fitted to the Focus’ 2005-specification rivals. It is a tremendous achievement for M-Sport, Ford TeamRS and all the project partners.

Team principal Malcolm Wilson is delighted. “It’s been a fantastic weekend,” he says. “We came here to test and the most important target was to last the full distance with the car so we could learn as much as possible. Toni’s car stopped on the penultimate special stage but the fact that we scored two fastest times is remarkable for a car which has been designed and built in such a short space of time. It has been a great effort from the whole team and we’ve shown the potential of the car for the future.”

December 2005
The Focus RS WRC 06 will now undertake asphalt and snow tests in preparation for the start of its first full FIA World Rally Championship campaign, on the Monte Carlo Rally which takes place from 20 - 22 January, 2006.

THE ALL-NEW FORD FOCUS RS WRC 06: Technology and intelligent solutions

Here are the key technical elements of the new Ford Focus RS WRC 06, along with Christian Loriaux's thoughts on the solutions that he and his team of engineers developed:

Although the Focus ST model on which the World Rally Car is based uses a 2.5-litre, five-cylinder engine, rallying rules do not permit an engine of that size. However, the regulations do allow teams to use another engine from elsewhere in the Ford Focus model range, so M-Sport opted for the 2.0-litre Duratec unit, with the addition of a turbocharger and the mandatory 34mm inlet restrictor. French engine specialist Pipo Moteur was employed to assist with the initial development of the new unit. M-Sport also used its own in-house transient dynamometer and made use of data from Ford TeamRS to fine-tune the specification. One advantage over the outgoing rally car is that the new engine has an all-alloy block. This allows for a reduction in weight and also a transfer of weight away from a relatively high position, thereby helping to lower the car’s centre of gravity. "We worked closely with Pipo to come up with a design," said Loriaux, "but once the first version of the engine arrived we put it straight onto our own dyno and completed more tests. After that, and more discussions, we changed the design of the crankshaft."

The new Focus RS WRC 06’s suspension is a further development of the type used on the 2004-specification car, although rule changes forced M-Sport’s engineers to make revisions.

To help reduce costs in world rallying, the use of expensive materials such as titanium is now severely restricted, and Ford’s engineers had to find a substitute that was strong without adding too much weight. The suspension continues to use Reiger dampers. Representatives from the Dutch firm liaised with Loriaux and his staff during the design phase, and were also present during the first few kilometres of testing to help with the initial set-up. "Under WRC rules there are such tight restrictions on the amount of power that the engine can produce that elements like the suspension have become even more important," said Loriaux. "We worked hard to strike a balance between handling and traction." Suspension parts were tested on a 2004-specification Focus RS WRC in rough conditions before the design was finalised.

M-Sport’s transmission consultant Ricardo played a key role in the development of the new car, since the new rules forbid the use of computer-controlled front and rear differentials. Instead, only the centre differential features this level of technology, with regular mechanical units at the front and rear. The fact that more of the system is now beyond computer control has only heightened the importance of arriving at a robust initial set-up. “Some of the restrictions on materials affected this side of the design too,” said Loriaux. “The propshaft is now steel, for example. But that means it has to be slightly wider to retain strength, so the transmission tunnel had to be made slightly larger to accommodate it.”

The new Ford Focus RS WRC 06 is based on the Focus ST road car. It is larger than its predecessor, presenting engineers with the challenge of keeping overall weight increase to a minimum. In addition, the new car’s width is 1800mm, the precise maximum specified under World Rally Car regulations.

“We liaised closely with Ford TeamRS on the shell,” said Loriaux. “We used the ADAMS software model to help with our initial design and that allowed us to experiment with the car’s layout and see how changes to one specific component might affect the other parts. We also worked hard on the aerodynamic side, because the new car has a larger frontal area. We tried to compensate for this as much as possible and to reduce drag on faster sections. On the other hand, the more steeply-sloped rear hatch of the new car plays back into our hands, in terms of making the rear wing more efficient.”

The Ford Focus RS WRC 06 features a considerable amount of change in its gearbox from the previous model, not only in specification but also in layout. The original Focus WRC (introduced in 1999) mated a longitudinal gearbox to a transverse engine, an engineering feat in itself. But for the new car, Loriaux decided to use a transverse gearbox along with the transverse engine. “I think there are benefits in packaging but also there should be less loss through friction,” he said. The new Ricardo-developed gearbox will have five gears, not six like the outgoing model. “Reducing the number of gears allows us to make a small weight saving and also a saving in terms of size of the gearbox itself,” said Loriaux. “We think that with the 34mm air restrictor on the turbocharger, as specified by the rules, the engine’s low-down strength and torque mean a five-speed unit will be as effective as a six-speed one. After all, with six speeds you do lose a little more time through more frequent changes anyway.”

Weight distribution
Loriaux is renowned for his innovative design approach to lowering the centre of gravity in rally machinery. Many of the trends seen on today’s cars, such as the crew sitting particularly low in the cabin, can be attributed to Loriaux’s earlier designs. From the earliest drawings of this new car, he has again been determined to set new trends.

“A low centre of gravity helps with handling, balance and steering feedback,” said Loriaux. “We’ve tried to make the engine as low as possible and with no compromises in the layout, to help achieve that.” Some of the more radical solutions will remain secret, but no element of the car’s layout or design has escaped intense scrutiny as far as weight distribution is concerned.


Engine: Ford 2.0-litre Pipo built I4 Duratec WRC engine. Four cylinders, 16 valves, two litres. Pi electronic engine management system. Garrett turbocharger (with FIA required 34 mm inlet restrictor). Air intercooler. Catalytic converter.
Power: 300 bhp at 6000 rpm
Torque: 550 Nm at 4000 rpm
Transmission: 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. M-Sport / Sachs multi disc carbon clutch.
Suspension: Front and rear: MacPherson struts (front) and Trailing-Arm (rear) with Reiger external reservoir dampers, adjustable in bump and rebound. Fully adjustable fabricated steel links. Front and rear anti-roll bars. Cast steel uprights. Ceramic wheel bearings.
Brakes: Gravel (front and rear): 300mm Brembo ventilated discs with Brembo four piston monoblock calipers.
  Asphalt (front and rear): 370mm Brembo ventilated discs with Brembo eight-piston monoblock calipers.
  Hydraulic handbrake; Adjustable front / rear bias.
Steering: Power-assisted high-ratio (12:1) rack and pinion. One and a half turns lock to lock.
Wheels: Gravel: 7in x 15in (magnesium) wheels with BF Goodrich
  650mm tyres.
Asphalt: 8in x 18in (magnesium) wheels with BF Goodrich 650mm tyres.
Bodyshell: Unitary construction. Unique composite side panels. Welded T45 steel safety roll cage. Aerodynamic rear wing. Unique front ‘bumper’ treatment.
Electronics: Full Pi chassis and engine data acquisition for on-event diagnostics and performance development.
Fuel tank: FIA FT3 tank, 94 litre capacity, located centrally.
Dimensions: Length: 4362mm. Width: 1800mm. Wheelbase: 2640mm. Weight: 1230kg minimum.

Ford Focus RS World Rally Car '06
Ford Focus RS World Rally Car '06

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