Sinister Forces: Inside Ken Block’s 600 Horsepower Ford Focus RS
For some people, enough truly is never enough. For adrenaline junkies like famed Gymkhana creator Ken Block, rally season being right around the bend means more performance than ever. For several years the eccentric auto enthusiast has been piloting Ford vehicles, both in his viral YouTube videos and in sanctioned race events. But this year the Blue Oval has something special in store for the Long Beach-born badass, as the turbocharged, all-wheel drive Focus RS has been turned into a stormtrooper helmet on high boost.
After being teased in the final credits of Block’s Gymkhana 8 video, Ford came forth and confirmed that Block’s Hoonigan Racing Division team will indeed be sporting two factory-supported 2016 Ford Focus RS race cars in the 2016 FIA World Rallycross Championship. Not to be outdone, the Detroit automaker says these two hatchbacks will make their debut in Portugal on April 15-17, and yes, they will look a lot like the digital renderings you see here today.
For those of you who are unfamiliar with Ford’s “RS” badge, it is one that has been around for more than half a century and stands for “Rallye Sport.” Typically reserved for dedicated race variants and production cars that teeter on the edge of being race variants, the latest vehicle to rock this badge is the highly talked about Focus RS, a hatchback that was reserved exclusively for European sale up until recently.
According to Dave Pericak, global director for Ford Performance, the RS badge has “a rich heritage that motorsports enthusiasts know and love,” and that as a company, Ford is thrilled to honor its history by “pushing every aspect of performance and design to the limit.”
But what you see here is more of a shove than a push. By collaborating with Block’s Hoonigan Racing crew and U.K.-based masterminds M-Sport, Ford Performance’s race-spec Focus RS is rocking all-wheel drive, a fully tuned EcoBoost motor that produces around 600 horsepower, and a zero-60 launch time of less than two seconds.
“We’ve dedicated the same level of cutting-edge tools, technical resources, and engineering know-how from our Le Mans GT and NASCAR programs [to these vehicles], and working with M-Sport brings renowned expertise in rallycross and stage rally vehicle development,” says Mark Rushbrook, motorsports engineering manager for Ford Performance. What has gone into these heavily ducted, widebody rally cars in order to make them work so well? Not surprisingly, quite a lot.
As for Hoonigan Racing Division’s leading driver and public figurehead, Ken Block, he claims that he is really happy to have “official factory support for my race season in 2016 and beyond.” The 48-year-old driver goes on to say that this “opens up a ton of powerful resources,” and that everyone involved will be able to benefit from this “in terms of engineering prowess, research, development, and racing experience from different fields.”
While the Focus RS Rallycross cars still have a while until their debut at the inaugural FIA World Rallycross event, the Hoonigans are already rearing to go, as the 2016 season takes them to a dozen global rallies in 11 different countries, all spread out over three continents. But until race season arrives we are left to our own devices, as we muse over the spec sheet below.
2016 Ford Focus RS Rallycross Specs
Power: 600 horsepower
Torque: 664 foot-pounds
Zero-60 Times: less than 2 seconds
Body: 2016 Ford Focus RS, seam welded and reinforced; homologated FIA-spec roll cage; custom body, designed by Ford Performance and M-Sport; custom underbody protection plating
Engine: Ford Performance and M-Sport developed Ford EcoBoost 2.0-liter engine; Garrett Turbocharger with 45 mm restrictor; Cosworth Electronics engine management; custom rallycross intercooler and radiator package.
Transmission: Sadev 6-Speed sequential gearbox with adjustable, mechanical front and rear differentials; triple plate AP carbon clutch
Suspension: SLA-type suspension, both front and rear with 3-way adjustable Reiger dampers
Brakes: Brembo 4-pot calipers with 350mm rotors and Sadev Hydraulic handbrake system
Interior: Recaro Pro-Racer Ultima FIA-8862 spec driver’s seat
Wheels: Forged 17- by 8-inch wheels
Tires: FIA-spec AVON race tires