Ford Rallye Sport's technical director, Christian Loriaux, is the man behind the new Ford Focus RS WRC 03. Here he reveals what is new on the car, the thinking behind its design and tells the story of the transformation from drawings to our world championship contender.
If World Rally Cars can be described as stunning, then that is the word I would use to describe the new Ford Focus RS WRC. The large rear wing and revised bumpers give the car a very contemporary look from the outside and much has changed underneath as well, but it remains clearly recognisable as a Focus. We began with a clean sheet of paper and we've ended with a radical, revolutionary rally car which retains all that was good from the previous model. That has been taken forward to a higher level and blended with much that is new and the end result is a car that we know is faster and believe will be just as reliable as its predecessor.
Aerodynamics is one of the key areas of development and, by the very look of the vehicle, the most strikingly obvious. We wanted to improve the downforce on the Focus as we've been losing time to our key rivals on the faster rallies like Finland and it's one area where we have to make gains. I've had quite a lot of experience in aerodynamics and know how important a strong package is in gaining vital seconds on faster rallies. There was clearly room for improvement over the 2002 car. One look tells you there have been some quite radical changes. There is a new, larger rear wing, the front bumper has been redesigned while the cooling scoops and all the body panels are new. That was a big task. We needed a lead time of four months to manufacture the body panels. We carried out a lot of preparation work in Ford's wind tunnel and spent three days testing different ideas before finally settling on the basic package. When I arrived at Ford Rallye Sport in January 2002 the aerodynamic work for last year's car was almost finished, so I had little input on that. We knew we needed to make changes but, as aerodynamic alterations are strictly restricted by homologation, this is our first opportunity.