The all-new Ford Focus touring car has undertaken final shakedown tests in preparation for its race debut in this weekend's opening round of the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship at Brands Hatch.
Last minute fine-tuning of the car took place at Ford's Dunton Engineering Centre, in Essex – home to Ford Team RS – as the company continued its support for independent touring car race teams that will run the all-new Focus.
Developed by Arena International Motorsport, with technical support from Ford, the new racing Focus is the first product of this initiative, which will see development of a common race car to S2000 specifications, to compete in major touring car categories worldwide.
UK-based Arena International Motorsport – which races in the BTCC under the banner of Team Aon – has been a successful long-term competitor in the series and introduced the previous generation Focus ST to the championship in 2009. Just 18 months after their first race with this car, the team and driver Tom Chilton secured both the 2010 Independent Teams' Championship and Independent Drivers' Championship titles.
Explaining the involvement of Ford's Dunton Engineering Centre - the UK's largest automotive research and development facility, Gerard Quinn, Ford of Europe Motorsport senior manager, said: “It's always very satisfying to see privateers taking Ford products and racing with them.
“Just as we can offer a team support in terms of cutting-edge facilities like the Dunton test track, so teams such as Arena can offer us their experience and skill in developing winning race cars. It's a truly collaborative effort.”
Team Aon driver, Tom Chilton, added: “Initial impressions are that it's a lot better than the old car and the old car was a great car. We finished fourth and fifth in the main championship and won the independent championship and that was a good package.
“This new global Focus is just that little bit better and I'm hoping that this weekend we can put on a good show.”