Ford Focus Poll
Between 1999 and 2011, the Ford Focus WRC was one of the most successful cars in the World Rally Championship.
Against competition from the likes of Subaru, Peugeot and Citroen, it racked up 44 rally wins at the hands of a stellar line-up of drivers including Colin McRae, Mikko Hirvonen and Marcus Gronholm, and propelled Ford to the 2006 and 2007 world titles.
But what is your favourite focus memory? That’s the subject of our latest wrc.com poll. Have a look at our five nominees below and get voting. Think we’ve missed one? Then let us know your favourite Focus memories on the WRC Facebook page.
1: Safari win 1999
The first win for the Focus World Rally Car came on only its third event and on the longest, hottest and roughest round of the World Rally Championship – Kenya’s Safari Rally. Colin McRae and Nicky Grist won by a huge margin of 7min 49.1sec to seal Ford’s first Safari success since 1977.
The 2,650km four-day rally was the fastest in the championship despite being held over dusty, rocky and rutted tracks in the African bush and McRae’s team-mate - a young Petter Solberg - completed the team’s delight by finishing sixth and securing a second haul of championship points.
2: McRae’s GB crash in 2001
Rally GB was the final round of the 2001 season and the drivers’ title fight was wide open. Colin McRae led the standings in his Focus RS by one point from Tommi Mäkinen (Mitsubishi), with Richard Burns (Subaru) another point back. It was a winner-takes-all situation with the British duel between McRae and arch rival Burns taking centre stage. Sadly the head-to-head fight didn’t last long.
McRae was in front after the third stage, but midway through the fourth, Rhondda, he got 15cms off line and hit a hole in the road at 150kph that flipped his car end over end four times. McRae said it was the biggest disappointment of his career. “I could see what was going to happen as soon as we hit the hole but there was nothing I could do about it…” he added.
3: Focus-powered title win in 2006
Ford bagged the 2006 FIA World Rally Championship manufacturers' title after a Focus RS 1-2 finish in Rally New Zealand. It was the sixth victory of the season for team leader Marcus Grönholm, while his team-mate Mikko Hirvonen was second.
Gronholm led from the rally’s opening kilometre, setting a clean sweep of fastest times on the opening day and winning 13 by the end of the event. The result was Ford's first manufacturers' title since 1979 and the squad's seventh victory of the season. Grönholm had already secured second in the drivers' series while Hirvonen's result meant he was assured of third.
4: Close call in New Zealand 2007
The Focus excelled on the smooth gravel roads of New Zealand, and one year after Gronholm’s title-winning victory in 2006, the Finn/Ford combo was back on record-breaking form. This time, however, the Focus propelled Gronholm to the closest finish in the history of the World Rally Championship after a titanic battle with rival Sébastien Loeb.
The margin between Grönholm and Loeb never rose above 15sec and the duo started the final leg with the Frenchman ahead by 1.7sec. The ice-cool Finn withstood immense pressure to win the rally by just 0.3sec after more than 350km of blistering driving – a margin which equates to 7.5 metres or less than two car lengths! It was 39-year-old Grönholm's fifth victory of the season and also his fifth in New Zealand.
5: Latvala over and out in Portugal 2009
The Focus World Rally Car was built strong. And nothing demonstrated that more clearly than Jari-Matti Latvala’s terrifying crash at the 2009 Rallye de Portugal when his car plunged 200 metres down a hillside.
The accident occurred 9.1km after the start of the fourth stage, when 24-year-old Latvala began to brake on a crest, which hid a left-hand corner. The car clipped a bank on the inside of the corner, flinging it over a roadside barrier and sending it barrel-rolling down a hillside.
The car completed 12 full rolls over the next 19.8 seconds, shedding its bonnet, tailgate and driver-side door before coming to rest against a tree. Despite the violence of the crash, Latvala and his co-driver Miikka Attila walked away from the wreckage and the car itself was repaired and rallied again.