Ask any FIA World Rallycross driver what the secret is to winning races, and they will tell you that it all starts with being first off the line. Having your rally car dialed in to achieve that perfect launch at the start of the race is crucial to getting your vehicle into prime position to tackle that first turn.
Last year, we witnessed the debut of the all-new Ford Focus RS RX as it competed in its first FIA World Rallycross season. Bringing in a brand new, virtually untested racecar into an already stacked lineup of performance vehicles was not an easy task.
The trio of companies had less than a year to design, build, and test the new rally car, and despite racing with only one formal preseason test, proved they had a more than capable racecar. Veteran drivers Ken Block and Andreas Bakkerud earned a combined seven podium victories, three overall wins, and a third-place finish in the Driver’s Championship.
Chasing the Championship
During the offseason, the team at Ford Performance began dialing in both the engine and the suspension of the Focus RS RX in hopes of gaining that competitive edge at the start of the race.
The team spent countless hours perfecting the launch on the rally car during the offseason and focused on getting the RS RX out in front when approaching that first turn. The team spent much of their time making sure the power that was being sent to the all-wheel-drive system matched what they needed off the line, ensuring consistent, fast starts.
And fine-tuning a vehicle’s powerband to meet the ever changing environments that these cars are subject to during a complete weekend of racing is no easy task.
Once the Ford Focus RS RX team finished the first season with the new car, the team went back to work analyzing the data that had been collected from each race of the season. The goal was to fine-tune the RS RX suspension based off how the vehicle performed at each race. The data showed that the suspension setup the team was currently running needed a few minor tweaks. And once again it all boiled down to improving the vehicle’s launch at the start.
Being able to change the vehicle’s suspension based on the conditions was also an important factor. The FIA World Rallycross vehicles are subject to a variety of different environments including rain, dirt, mud, and even dry payment throughout a heat race and identifying when a vehicle’s setup needs to be adjusted can mean the difference between a podium finish and dead last.
Round six of the FIA World Rallycross season takes place June 9-11 in Norway. For more information, check out the official website here.