Ford Focus returns to FIA WTCC action after extensive testing Cologne, July 22, 2005 - Team Ford Hotfiel Sport returns to action in the FIA World Touring Car Championship at Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium, next weekend. The German team decided to...
Ford Focus returns to FIA WTCC action after extensive testing
Cologne, July 22, 2005 - Team Ford Hotfiel Sport returns to action in the FIA World Touring Car Championship at Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium, next weekend. The German team decided to miss the last round at Puebla in Mexico to concentrate on test and development work on the new Ford Focus RS WTCC.
"The journey to Mexico would have meant the cars would have been away for a total of six weeks," said team principal Hans Hotfiel. "We decided it would be better for us to use this time for extensive tests and development work on the cars."
The team also boasts a new driver for Spa, as Michael Funke replaces Thomas Jaeger, who has left the team for personal reasons.
Skipping the Mexican event meant the team spent most of the early German summer in various locations testing the vehicle. Thomas Klenke shared the driving with the team's test driver Patrick Bernhardt and new driver Michael Funke. With Jaeger leaving, the tests allowed 35-year-old Funke valuable time at the wheel in preparation for Spa. Funke, who is married with a daughter, lives in the Ruhrgebiet area of Germany. His experience of Ford's German touring car programme started with the previous model and he is looking forward to sampling the new Focus. "Ford has put great trust in me by handing me this drive. Now it's up to me to pay back and deliver," he said.
The team concentrated on suspension and differential settings as well as engine performance. "By using a harder anti-roll bar and softer springs in the front and by changing the rear axle's geometry we've now achieved a level of security which allows us to drive this car as we want -- with a rear end that's moving a bit and thus helping the front," said Klenke.
"In the WTCC, you have to brake into the corners as deep as possible in order to shut the door on anybody who might want to overtake you. Fine-tuning the differential helps prevent the inside front wheel from locking up under turn-in braking."
After the tests, Eberhard Braun, the German head of motorsport at FordTeamRS, concluded: "The team made significant steps in the right direction -- set-up, transmission and engine have all been improved. We expect that effort to be reflected in better results during the second half of the season. Spa has a challenging and exciting track, therefore the team and the drivers are looking forward to this event".