New Focus RS to hit the States in 2015

Ford will launch a new high-performance Focus RS in January at the Detroit Auto Show, and the USA is on the list of lucky recipients.

The cult car, of which this writer is a proud owner (a 2010 hatch in Ultimate Green) will see its next iteration released globally in reportedly greater numbers than before, though they will still be capped for exclusivity.

Owners of the Focus ST may find this news somewhat of a dampener, with many hoping the ST badge would remain the top tier of the Focus hatch range. Understandably, too, with its turbocharged, 252-horsepower four-cylinder and sweet handling package.

However, the new RS could use Ford’s 2.3-liter turbo-four which can reach 350 horses easily, and rumors abound that it will be four-wheel-drive instead of front.

Red Bull Racing Raided

Thieves have ram-raided the Red Bull F1 team’s home office and factory in Milton Keynes, stealing a horde of memorabilia from the display cabinets that flank the front reception.

Six men used the vehicle to gain access, however they didn’t venture any further than the front office, ignoring the many other treasures that would undoubtedly lie around an F1 factory floor and instead taking off with only the F1 trophies inside the cabinets.

Team principal Christian Horner said they were “devastated” by the break-in as the trophies “took years and hard work to accumulate”.

Fortunately, many of the stolen trophies were just replicas, and not the real awards handed out at multiple Championship rounds over the team’s GP history.

Ken Box Gymkhana 2

A host of pretender and parody videos always follow in the wake of the latest Ken Block Gymkhana videos. This week, we were treated to one of the best; the second instalment of Ken Box.

It’s just that - a cardboard box, with a Monster rally car on all four sides complete with the pseudonym HooisKen (rather then Ken Block’s Hoonigan moniker), hiding a Razor Crazy Kart and driven by a dude called Ali Kermani.

After a much loved first parody that saw nearly 2.8 million views, the ante has been upped with sponsorship from GoPro - meaning every possible creative and crazy angle is captured - and a bigger set with more machines and tricks.

Enjoy.

Gymkhana 7. Nuff said.

This video really needs no introduction. In fact, we would be surprised if you were even reading this, rather than simply clicking on the video and watching the latest instalment of Ken Block’s Hoonigan series of sideways, smoking ‘khana videos.

A nice change is the car he uses for this chapter - not his usual Ford fare of a rally-tuned Focus or Fiesta, but rather a 850hp 1965 Mustang with some major mods, the most obvious being an all-wheel drivetrain, showcased at the start of the video by a huge slo-mo burnout which has all four wheels smoking incessantly.

It had 2.3 million hits and counting in its first day.

Enjoy.

Caterham crowdfund last race of the season

Motorsport enthusiasts are an awesome lot; generous to a fault. “Do I spend that thirty bucks on a nice Sunday roast, or pop the money towards a new exhaust?”

These type of decisions are taken in all seriousness… Off to McDonald’s it is.

After missing the last round in Astin, Texas following the announcement that the team had entered administration (along with fellow backmarker team Marussia, who faces similar stresses), Caterham turned to the fans to get them back on track.

Turning to a crowdfunding appeal, the team offered up money can’t (usually) buy assets such as pieces of the cars and driver paraphernalia, to space on the cars at a fraction of the usual sponsor price, to straight up donations from the fans. They have managed to raise almost three million dollars in the process.

Despite being just over $780,000 short of their set financial goal of $3.7 million, the Caterham Formula One team will indeed be on the grid at Abu Dhabi for the final race of the season anyway.

A representative from the administration firm who controls Caterham’s assets has admitted that this is also the best avenue for the beleaguered team from their point of view, saying “… the best way to keep this team alive and attract possible buyers was to show that it’s still a racing team and be in Abu Dhabi for the finale”.

Unfortunately this hasn’t stopped the administrators from making any unnecessary staff redundant, and the axings continue in the background as the team prepares to fly out.

Still, the effort is a great, if temporary, result for the team, and for motorsport enthusiasts in general.

Camry sheds its cardigan

The media must have been either ready for something big, or ready to yawn, when Toyota lifted the covers on a very normal-looking Camry at the 2014 SEMA auto show. But given it’s SEMA, odds were it was somethign a little more exciting than the usual cardigan car.

Indeed it was, with Toyota revealing the Camry’s full drivetrain and tubed chassis skeleton by lifting the entire shell off the car, Funny Car style, and show off its 850-horsepower, supercharged 5.7-liter V8 engine appropriated from the Tundra ute.

Also donated from the truck are the transmission and rear running gear to handle the power and torque, while the TRD arm and the Motorsports Technical Center donated all the go-fast bits including NOS to enable the sleeper to drag a quarter mile in a claimed 9.8 seconds. The build, it is claimed, was completed in just 11 weeks.

Check out the video HERE.

Bianchi still ‘critical but stable’

The family of French Formula One driver Jules Bianchi has finally released a statement about the condition and ongoing treatment of the young Marussia driver, following his massive shunt at the Japanese GP a month ago.

Bianchi remains in a “critical but stable” condition in Mie General Medical Centre in Yokkaichi, according to his family, though they said there was “no new information to give”.

“His condition continues to be classified by the medical professionals here as critical but stable,” reads the statement.

“Although we have no new information to give, we recognise that there are a huge number of people all around the world who are supporting Jules and willing him on in his fight.

“We owe it to his many fans to acknowledge the continued outpouring of messages, and to provide some information, however brief it may be.”

It concluded: “We will provide a further update when it is appropriate to do so. In the meantime, thank you to everyone who continues to keep Jules in their thoughts and prayers.”

The statement is timely, given that questions will inevitably be asked before the United States Grand Prix this weekend, and the sad fact that both Marussia and fellow backmarker team Caterham have withdrawn from the round, citing financial concerns.

The New York Times slams the door on car news

In another sign of the digital, err, times, the The New York Times is shutting down its automotive section.

Usually a part of the paper’s Sunday edition - and no more than that - the section will be closed down in favor of online classifieds and the odd motoring story in the News section.

The Times shut down its automotive blog pages last year in a precursory attempt to save cash, but it obviously has not been enough. The LA Times shut its auto section down over six years ago.

Vegas next for F1 Circus?

Forget New Jersey - the next US location allegedly on the radar of Formula 1 is Las Vegas.

After a 32-year absence, rumours have started leaking out of the Nevada strip following trips by motorsport circuit designer Hermann Tilke, and suggestive comments by F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone.

While eyeing off the strip, the organisers will no doubt be sure to avoid the trappings of the past, ie the Caesars Palace Grand Prix of 1981 which had limited areas of track, and limited success.

With the Circuit of the Americas, Canada GP, and now Mexico returning to the calendar, Bernie may have found another slot in his busy F1 calendar that can afford the sanctioning fees that cripple other countries and smaller circuits. For where better than to roll the dice than Vegas?

The importance of forward visibility at 90mph

While the prevalence of dashcams have revealed some amazing - and amazingly poor - driving over recent years, there is always that one video that goes viral every now and then due to its shocking content.

Most of these do not end well, however some inevitably reveal some miraculous escapes - this is one of them.

Doing the rounds right now is footage from a truck of the Ford Focus of 25-year-old Belgian driver Jasmien Claeys. It is a perfect example of how not to use a highway off-ramp - by accelerating in the fast right lane around then splitting between two trucks to take the far left slip road.

Unfortunately for Jasmein, the off ramp was backed up with traffic. Her lack of visibility - due to ducking in right behind a truck - led her to blindly merge right into a truck, then pinball of the other heavy rigs she had so rudely cut up just moments before.

Ms Claeys broke her two top vertebrae, shattered the bones in her hand and was left in coma for several days, though she is now recovering well. Her car, however, is destined for the scrapheap; and it will likely take all the other drivers involved just as long to recover emotionally from the experience.

Check out the video HERE.