Inside The Development Of The Ford Performance Focus RS RX

Last year, Ford Performance and Hoonigan Racing Division brought forth the Focus RS RX racer to compete in the FIA World Rallycross series. Developed in a matter of months, these cars were instantly competitive, with teammates Ken Block and Andreas Bakkerud combining for three wins and seven podiums during the 2016 season. Now we can get more insight into how these cars came together.

A new series of Ford Performance pulls back the curtain on the development of its FIA World Rallycross racer.

A new series of Ford Performance pulls back the curtain on the development of its FIA World Rallycross racer.

Working with the experts at M-Sport, Ford Performance and Hoonigan built these rocket ships in less than nine months. Now the Blue Oval’s hot rodding division is peeling back the curtain with a series of videos detailing the development of the hot hatch racer’s cockpit, driveshaft, suspension and wing.

As you’ll see above, the cabin of the Focus RS RX was personalized for each driver. Ken and Andreas have different driving styles, so the placement of the seats, shifters and such were optimized to reduce shift times and allow for faster operation on-track.

Even parts like the driveshaft were examined for maximum durability in the rugged environs of Rallycross. These events feature jumps, bumps and transitions from dirt to pavement, all of which can stress the parts. To ensure the driveshaft was up to snuff, Ford Performance used Sadev Finite Element Analysis to create a heat map to reveal potential weak points in the driveshaft in order to improve its design.

As is the case with any race car, the suspension design and setup is crucial to fielding a successful program. Ford Performance used a high-tech production tool known as a Kinematics and Compliance rig to test the suspension components and settings.

Like the suspension, aerodynamics are also crucial on a race car. The big wing on the Focus RS RX isn’t just there for looks. Engineers turned to computation fluid dynamics modeling software to run through more than 100 iterations before building a few prototypes to test. Then they found the design that maximized speed and downforce.

From the cockpit to the rear wing, Ford Performance, Hoonigan Racing Division and M-Sport refined every aspect of this hot hatch during its nine-month gestation.

It’s great to get a look behind the curtain at these impressive machines, but it’s even better to see them in action, so if you get a chance to attend a race, we highly recommend it. The FIA World Rallycross season begins at the end of the month in Barcelona and makes its only North American stop in Canada this August. For the full schedule, check out the official site here.

About the author

Steve Turner

Steve Turner brings decades of passion and knowledge in the world of Ford performance, having covered it for over 20 years. From the swan song of the Fox Mustang to the birth of the Coyote, Steve had a front-row seat.
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