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.

Ford Ecoboost Daytona Prototype smashes three lap records

Ford has laid claim to not one but three speed records at Daytona after a successful test at the Florida track.

The Riley Technologies Daytona Prototype, running the new 3.5-liter V6 EcoBoost race engine, was steered across the line by Colin Braun and the Michael Shank Racing team, busting apart some long-standing times.

On the Daytona tri-oval, a speed of 222.971 mph over a single lap broke the 26-year-old record held by Bill Elliott in a Ford Thunderbird, while a new standing start 10-mile and standing start 10-kilometer record was also claimed by the heavily-kitted prototype car.

Braun wasn’t even born when Elliott set the previous speed record!

OFFICIAL RELEASE:
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla., Oct. 9, 2013– After 26 years, there’s a new King of Speed at Daytona International Speedway.

Colin Braun drove a Riley Technologies Daytona Prototype race car, powered by the new 3.5-liter, V-6 Ford EcoBoost race engine, to a new Daytona single lap speed record of 222.971 mph during a special record run attempt today, topping the 26-year-old speed record of 210.364 mph set by Bill Elliott in a Ford Thunderbird during qualifying for the 1987 Daytona 500.

Braun and the Michael Shank Racing team also set new world speed records for 10 miles from a standing start (210.018 mph average), and 10 kilometers from a standing start (202.438 mph average). All times from today’s session are subject to Federation Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA) homologation.

Braun, at 25 years of age, wasn’t even born when Elliott set the previous speed record. But he knows the significance of what was accomplished during today’s speed trials.

“It was a challenging day,” said Braun afterward. “There was a lot of work put in by a lot of people to accomplish these records. The power in the new EcoBoost engine was incredible, and it was amazing how fast it came up to speed on the runs.

“Our first run this morning was 209 mph, and it was an edgy drive at that speed. I can only imagine how edgy it was for Bill Elliott doing those speeds in his Thunderbird stock car. But our crew kept working and adjusting on it, and it was a great feeling coming down pit road after the record runs and seeing how happy everyone was.”

The new Ford EcoBoost engine was prepared for the record run by Ford Racing engine partner Roush Yates Engines, and Continental Tires did a special tire for the run that was lighter and had less rolling resistance than the standard race tire, along with a harder compound than the tire used for a typical road course race.

Both the new car and new twin-turbo engine will compete in the 2014 TUDOR United SportsCar Championship that kicks off with the Rolex 24 at Daytona in January.

“It’s a very proud day for all of us at Ford,” said Allison. “To take a Ford EcoBoost race engine that is basically production technology, and to beat speed records that have been on the books for decades really says something for our new engine and the program we launched last week.

“It’s a great way to kick off a new era of EcoBoost and sports car racing for Ford in the 2014 United SportsCar Championship, and we couldn’t have done it without Shank and his team, and the team at Roush Yates.”

“We’ve been working on this for probably nine or 10 months,” said team owner Michael Shank. “We did a first shakedown of the car and engine last January and we saw the potential even then of what it may do. For someone like me, to come from where I started in racing to be part of this today at Daytona, is just so cool.

“We’re so excited about the Ford EcoBoost engine. It’s relevant, production technology from Ford coming into a race program, and we need more of that in racing.”

“This is an engine project we started probably two years ago,” said John Maddox, road racing program manager, Roush Yates Engines. “There has been a lot of hard work by a lot of people to get it to where it is today, but this EcoBoost engine is relevant, state-of-the-art production technology in racing, and it brings with it power and high efficiency in the same package.

“When we broke the track speed record today with it, well, that was big. But to come back and set two world speed records that have been around since 1979 … well, that’s something you can tell the grandkids some day.”

Preparation for the 2014 USCC season began almost immediately after today’s record run. After switching the car over from an oval configuration, the MSR team took to the Daytona road course for the first test of the new car and EcoBoost engine on the track where it will debut in January.

The big changes in 2013 for the WRC

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The WRC is in for a big shake-up in 2013, with many teams unrecognisable or worse, not in it at all.

For starters, there will be no Mini or Ford factory teams, though both marques will run in privateer guise.

However, two brand new manufacturers enter the fray. Hyundai will come in with its i20, while VW will debut its new Polo WR car, and has stolen the prized Red Bull sponsorship from Citroen. Meanwhile, Citroen takes the Abu Dhabi dollars from the defunct Ford team.

Citroen has also taken Dani Sordo back after turfing him for Ogier several years ago. Dani went to Mini, then drove the odd rally in WRC and starred in the IRC, so should have his eye in. Dani will alternate with eight-time champ Seb Loeb, who is only driving four rallies, his favourites, in 2013.

And the wonderful Petter Solberg will not be running in the WRC at all; for the first in 15 years.

The WRC will be a very different beast in ‘13.

Ford joins Mini in WRC defection

First Mini, and now Ford. Within a week, two of the three factory teams in the World Rally Championship have announced they will withdraw their support at the end of 2012, citing the current economic climate as the primary reason behind the decision.

The WRC has been in the doldrums this year since losing its promoter, after Russian Vladimir Antonov, who was essentially in charge of the commercial rights of the WRC, was busted for suspected fraud at two banks he controlled.

Ford had refused to sign up to a sport that may not have television and support, but finally caved, signing Petter Solberg and agreeing to ‘two more years at least’.

But only one has passed, and they are now leaving the sport.

“Ford has a long and proud history in the WRC and this was not an easy decision,” said Roelant de Waard, vice president, Marketing, Sales and Service, Ford of Europe.

“At this time, however we determined that it was better for the company and the Ford brand to reduce our commitment to the WRC and deploy our resources in other areas.”

Ford’s partner in world rallying, M-Sport, who have had the factory’s backing since 1997, say they are now looking at their options for 2013.

“I would like to thank Ford of Europe for their enthusiastic support and the faith shown in the team over the past 16 seasons,” said M-Sport boss, and former Ford factory rally driver Malcolm Wilson.

“We understand that tough decisions have had to be made to safeguard Ford jobs, we accept the commercial reality of the situation and look forward to continuing our strong technical partnership into the future.

“My intention is that we will continue to push to secure stage wins and overall results on the forthcoming events for Ford and to push forward with the development work that was started in March this year to improve and refine the Fiesta WRC even further, ready for the 2013 season.

“Confirmation of our key championship programmes for 2013 is our first priority and a challenge that the team here is very much looking forward to.  After that we can review all options and determine the right direction for the future.

“M-Sport is extremely proud of our history with Ford since 1997; 208 podium finishes, scoring points on 156 consecutive events and 52 wins from 225 starts in the WRC along with two world titles underlines the dedication and commitment of the whole team in Cumbria.”

With Volkswagen assumed to enter the sport in 2013, it will be up to them and Citroen to fly the flag.

Ford Oz bails out Ford Performance Vehicles

Ford Australia and Prodrive has signed an MOU to keep the formerly separate tuning arm FPV alive.

Ford will buy out Prodrive’s 51 percent share of the company and keep its engineering, manufacturing and marketing of the FPV brand alive, after a horror few years for the company that saw sales of its super sedans and utes fall below the number of elitist AMG Mercedes sold nationwide (2011 - 2012).

“As a result of the business review, Prodrive has made the decision to exit the performance car market at the end of 2012,” said Prodrive Managing Director Bryan Mears.

“We have enjoyed great success through our partnership with Ford Australia and look forward to watching the FPV brand continue to thrive in the future.”

New Aussie Ford GT takes cues from US Mustang

Australia’s Ford performance arm, FPV, has released a track-going limited edition model of the V8 GT today.

The car features suspension modifications and launch control, as well as a bling black and red paint job, aping the palette of the popular 1968 Mustang.

It is powered by a 5.0-litre supercharged V8 petrol engine with 335kW of power and 570Nm of torque, through either a six-speed manual or six-speed ZF automatic gearbox.

The GT R SPEC (Race Specification) has a limited run of 350 sedans, and is priced from AU$76,990, which strategically splits the V8 entry level GT and top-shelf GT-P and GT-E.

V8 Ford family bus gets a lifeline

For some time now, the world of cars has been turning green.

The sickly plague of eco-this, earth friendly-that has brought about the early retirement of many a fine model, as six, four and even two cylinder models replace more conventional engines in the search for fuel economy and CO2 emission lows.

But it’s good to see that some dreams may not be dead just yet.

At a recent launch in New Zealand, Ford’s southern hemisphere boss Bob Graziano hinted that the old V8-powered XR8 nameplate for the Falcon/Taurus is still alive - though the actual car has been out of commission since the introduction of the new FG designation in 2010.

“We have been studying (the XR-8 business case) for some time now,” admitted Graziano.

“It is an iconic name and brand. With everything we are currently doing, we just have to find the right balance.”

Balance indeed - we can’t all pot around in two-cylinder turbos…

Latvala and Solberg test new Fiesta at Monte Carlo - hard!

Off the back of the news that Petter Solberg will be joining #1 driver Jari-Matti Latvala at Ford next year, an avid fan has taped a recent test day with the Finn on the tarmac near Monte Carlo. And he;’s certainly pushing the new car to its limit. Click the image above for Latvala, or HERE for Solberg - and enjoy!

Ford and Solberg back for WRC assault

It’s official - Ford has extended its participation in the FIA World Rally Championship for two more years at least, and even better, has signed Petter.

After a nervous few months for both Ford boss Malcom Wilson and his team, and for the WRC, Ford has overlooked the current issues with the finances of the sport and agreed to a new two-year deal.

The signing came under threat earlier this year when Russian Vladimir Antonov, who is essentially in charge of the commercial rights of the WRC, was busted for suspected fraud at two banks he controls, arrested, and bailed pending trial.

Ford had refused to sign up to a sport that may not have television and support, but obviously an agreement has been reached.

Ford will again campaign its Fiesta RS World Rally Car, with Finland’s Jari-Matti Latvala and co-driver Miikka Anttila stepping up to the #1 position with the defection of former team leader Mikko Hirvonen to Citroen.

And in the best bit of news, 2004 WRC champ Petter Solberg will be joining the squad.

Left without a ride after Subaru dropped out of the WRC, Petter has spent the last few years struggling as a privateer, forced to be both driver, financier, and manager.

Solberg and codriver Chris Patterson have signed a one-year agreement to drive the team’s second Fiesta RS WRC in all 13 rounds. It will be his second time around with Ford, having launched his world rally career with the team back in 1999.

Sinister and Supercharged: FPV’s GT-based concept

ford performance vehicles fpv concept
Ford of Australia’s performance arm, Ford Performance Vehicles, always unveils machines that cause our drool to drip all the way down to the Outback – and we’re not talking gimmicky steakhouses here. A new FPV showcar has just been revealed for the Australian International Auto Show in Melbourne, and we’re already stuffing our mouth with gauze. It’s called the FPV Concept, and it’s based on the Ford Falcon GT sedan.

Looking decisively evil in its blacked-out color scheme, the FPV Concept is powered by a supercharged 5.0-liter V8 engine. Large 19-inch wheels help sort the handling and power, with eight-inch-wide rollers up front and 9.5-inch-wide wheels in the rear. The suspension is track-tuned and in our dreams, the exhaust system has been tuned by Hades himself.

Sadly, this FPV Concept is just another vehicle in a long line of Australian muscle machines Americans will never get to buy.