It's finally going to happen. We're going rallying for real. If you've been reading Sport Compact Car closely for the last few years, you've probably noticed our attempts to sneak a rally story or rallycross event in the magazine every other month or so--strategically placing them in our street-car-dominated world of high performance and making every effort to be sure they didn't upset the mix. More recently, engineering editor Coleman has even run his own series on building a rally car for almost no money--a car that has produced impressive results, considering its budget and the leisure with which it was assembled.
Bottom line is we've tried time and again to go rallying for no money and little commitment, all the while hiding it amongst the bits of the magazine that were designed to keep the tarmac weenies happy. Those days are over. We're going rallying for real. We're building what we think will be a competitive car and planning to run a full season in the California Rally Series. And we want to win. We've joined forces with some big names in the aftermarket, including Pectel Technologies (who will supply the car's engine management system), Quaife, Fluidyne, Enkei, Michelin and plenty of others.
Our hope with the Focus is to let what we learn about engine and chassis development trickle down to our street car, so ultimately you can take advantage of some real racecar-proven goodies. The rally car will be turbocharged and, as mentioned above, will use a version of Pectel's programmable engine management system specific to the Focus. Pectel is the same company that supplies engine management to the M Sport Ford Focus World Rally Team, so we figure we'll be in good hands.
Our plans call for building to SCCA Group 5 class rules. For those of you not familiar with the SCCA's semi-obscure rally car classes, we'll give you a brief update. Group 5 rules mandate driving only two wheels--which two doesn't matter. Group 5 cars are allowed to be turbo- or supercharged with a maximum adjusted displacement of 5100cc. A 1.7 multiplier is used for cars with turbo- or supercharged engines. That means, when turbocharged, our Zetec engine comes out to about 3380cc of adjusted displacement--still well within the rules. Short of a few body and window requirements, everything else is virtually unrestricted, leaving us with lots of opportunity for an outrageous rally suspension, rally specific wheels and tires and plenty of other racecar gear.
Look for this project to accompany the build-up of our Focus street car, providing a solid foundation for hot-rod Foci everywhere.