Great racing cars: 2005 Ford Focus RS WRC 05


A series taken from the 164-page Motor Sport special Great Racing Carswhich is available to buy here

To buy the lead image click here.

From the editor Damien Smith

How would you define a ‘great’ racing car? Race wins and championship titles are an obvious place to start – and admittedly, when we began the process of rounding up the ‘voices’ to fill this special magazine, published by the team behind Motor Sport, we had in mind the likes of the Lotus 72, Ferrari F2004, Porsche 917, Audi R10 and so on.

But as the interviews of familiar racing figures began, we realised greatness is often a very personal thing. Naturally, most – but not all – would pick cars they had experienced first-hand, as a driver, designer, engineer or team boss. And on occasion the cars that stood out in their minds as ‘great’ weren’t necessarily so in the grand scheme of history. That’s why you’ll find a Minardi here among Formula 1 cars from Lotus, Williams and McLaren.

Unexpected? Certainly. Wrong? Not to the man who chose it.

As the interviews accumulated, our magazine took on a life of its own, full of personal anecdotes about the myriad cars that made careers. Some of those we spoke to, such as Mario Andretti and Dan Gurney, couldn’t be tied to a single choice from multi-faceted lives at the wheel. Such heroes have earned the right to choose an F1, sports and Indycar, so we allowed them more than one bite.

Others refused to be confined by category. Hence the short ‘Odd ’n Sods’ chapter on cars that, by and large, are mere footnotes in lower divisions of racing lore.

Thus there is nothing definitive about the selection listed herein. Then again, there’s no claim that this compilation offers the ‘Greatest Racing Cars’ of history. It’s much more personal than that, much more quirky – and all the better for it.

Mikko Hirvonen
Four-time WRC runner-up, M-Sport World Rally Team driver

The Mk2 Escort with the BDA engine was awesome, fantastic to drive, but then the 2005 Focus with those active differentials was amazing. If we had that car with this year’s suspension and the tyres we had at the time, then it would be the perfect rally car.

We could go so fast in that car and I remember once in Greece, in 2005, when I was a privateer. We did really well in that rally. At some places I didn’t realise that we’d already gone through the corners – it was just amazing how it could work.

But after 2005 we started to reduce the technology and we no longer had so many options to change things like the differentials from inside the car.

From the website: “A busy year for M-Sport” by Rob Widdows (February 2014).

M-Sport’s biggest customer has been Ford, for whom Wilson has run rally teams since 1997. However Ford withdrew its ‘manufacturer support’ from the WRC in 2013 and M-Sport goes into a new season with two ‘independent’ teams, one led by Robert Kubica, and a second squad for Mikko Hirvonen and Elfyn Evans. Both teams run the Fiesta RS WRC against strong opposition from Volkswagen and Citroën.

After Rally Sweden Jari-Matti Latvala tops the table for Volkswagen ahead of team-mate Sébastien Ogier and Citroën’s Mads Østberg while both Hirvonen and Evans have points on the board. Kubica has shown spectacular speed – although mistakes that he describes as “a little bit crazy” have kept him out of the points thus far.

“We have to face facts,” says Wilson, ever the pragmatist, “Sébastien Ogier is going to be the favourite at every rally – but with Robert on board and Mikko back in the team we have an incredibly strong driver line-up. I’m just so impressed by the way Robert works, the hours he puts in, the attention to detail, he’s a top sportsman and he can win a rally this year. He will be a great mentor for Elfyn and – if we can put pressure on the likes of Ogier – then we can capitalise on any mistakes and get the results.

To read the rest of this article click here.

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