Following the announcement of its new four-year commitment to the FIA World Rally Championship, Ford of Europe took the opportunity to reveal what the new generation Ford Focus RS WRC could look like.

The Blue Oval has ended speculation about its future in the top flight of international rallying by inking a new deal with Malcolm Wilson's British-based M-Sport operation which, in conjunction with Ford Team RS, has produced the vision of an all-new Focus rally car. The new generation Focus will continue a family tradition that has seen the model provide the backbone of Ford's motorsport activity since 1999.

The dynamic lines of the soon-to-be-launched road-going model, and especially the coupe-like stance of the three-door version, provide the perfect base for the dramatic looking 2006 RS WRC concept. Sporting a proud blue oval livery, the car shares design cues with the existing Focus RS WRC that will remain the company's challenger in the 2005 championship.

The standard road car's prominent wheelarches are matched to a full width front spoiler and generous bonnet air vents, while a roof-mounted air scoop and a characteristic rear spoiler contribute to the functional WRC-inspired appearance. Despite the WRC add-ons and design changes that draw strongly on the existing Focus rally car, the Focus 2006 RS WRC concept is markedly different with its faster rear screen angle, in particular, indicating a visually more aggressive rally car.

The unveiling of the Focus 2006 WRC concept signals the start of a 14-month programme that will see the fully-developed rally car compete in the opening round of the 2006 season. It is also the start of a four-year programme to develop the new Ford Focus into a challenger for WRC success.

Initially, this programme will run alongside Ford's existing WRC commitments throughout the 2005 season, which will now also incorporate the development of the Fiesta JWRC by M-Sport - a move intended to establish Wilson's company as Ford's centre for international rallying.

"We will continue to provide the Fiesta JWRC and Super 1600 cars for private teams," Ford Team RS director Jost Capito confirmed, "However, to ensure that the Fiesta remains competitive and fulfils its full potential, M-Sport will take over immediate responsibility for the development of this programme and customer support. It will be fully integrated into Malcolm Wilson's activities to guarantee that our customer teams receive the best possible support for their Fiesta programmes."