Centenary celebrations for Ford Focus World Rally Car The Rallye de France Tour de Corse marks the 100th world rally for the Ford Focus World Rally Car. Since its debut on the opening round of the 1999 FIA World Rally Championship, the Monte ...
Centenary celebrations for Ford Focus World Rally Car
The Rallye de France Tour de Corse marks the 100th world rally for the Ford Focus World Rally Car. Since its debut on the opening round of the 1999 FIA World Rally Championship, the Monte Carlo Rally, the Focus has won 16 world rallies and claimed a remarkable 59 podium finishes.
Colin McRae has started the most rallies (56) in a Focus WRC as a nominated driver followed by Markko Martin (43) and Carlos Sainz (42). Martin has claimed the most manufacturer points scoring finishes (28) ahead of Sainz (27) and McRae (25). The Focus has completed 4040 special stages and set 336 fastest times. It has led for 299 stages.
The 99 rallies completed so far have produced many high points. BP-Ford World Rally Team director Malcolm Wilson, the man who has overseen all 99 Focus starts, selects his five highlights:
Safari Rally 1999: "This was my proudest moment in team management. Kenya's Safari Rally was an event unlike any other in the world championship. The nature of the roads, the long competitive sections and the heat combined to make it the toughest event in the calendar. It was unique and we had no right to win there - but we did. It was only our third event with the Ford Focus and just a couple of months previously we had all been working 24 hours a day simply to get the car ready for its first rally. Colin McRae drove superbly and the car was so strong that it just soaked up all the punishment that Kenya's roads could inflict."
Rally Catalunya 2000: "Colin McRae won on Spain's asphalt and it was our first win on that surface with the Focus in the car's 19th rally. Carlos Sainz finished third as well and in terms of results that was our best performance to date. It was important for the team to win on sealed surfaces, to prove the car could compete anywhere."
Cyprus Rally 2000: "Just five rallies later, we went to what was a brand new event in the championship and came away with a fantastic 1-2. We had done the same just three rallies earlier in Greece but this was special because we had never been there before. I had a feeling beforehand that this was made for Carlos and he led home Colin. Carlos was always a strong contender on new rallies and his preparation and ability paid off handsomely here."
Rally Finland 2003: "Early in 2003 we debuted a stunning new Focus RS WRC. It was designed by Christian Loriaux and one of our main targets was to build a car that could outpace our rivals on the faster rallies. They don't come any faster than Finland! Markko Martin had already won with the car in Greece but this was the type of event that we built the car around. It is a true classic and traditionally non-Nordic drivers don't get a look in. Didier Auriol and Carlos Sainz were the only two who had won there before Markko brought the Focus home 45 seconds clear. It was a huge margin on such a fast event and it proved the Focus was the quickest car in the championship. The scenes at the finish with all the blue, black and white Estonian flags flying were incredible."
Cyprus Rally 2005: "We finished fifth and sixth - but that wasn't the important thing. The results meant we had become the first manufacturer in the history of the championship to record 50 points finishes. The record run started on the Monte Carlo Rally in 2002 and fifth for Toni Gardemeister and sixth for Roman Kresta brought up the half century. When I look back at the calibre of drivers who contributed to the record, I feel extremely proud. But, more than anything, the run is a tribute to the speed, reliability and strength of the Ford Focus WRC."