After a year’s worth of development, the Ford Racing Focus ST-R made its debut Friday afternoon at Daytona International Speedway competing in the Grand-Am Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge of the ST class. The #15 car qualified seventh at the hands of James Gue and the team was on track for a top five finish; unfortunately, the Focus ST-R experienced a race-ending wreck when driver Gunnar Jeannette “got tangled up” in bumper-to-bumper traffic.
Interestingly, Ford’s direction on the Racing Focus ST-R has been to keep the car as close to the production ST model as possible. The thinking is that by doing so, the car to earn some serious street cred:
“The motorsport and performance programs, they go hand in hand,” said Director of Global Performance Vehicles & Motorsport Business Development Jost Capito. “And it’s very important to have them both — the performance vehicle on its own is not that credible if it’s supported by motorsport activity. And the same for the motorsport — if you do motorsport, it should be supported by performance vehicles.”
Additionally, the goal is to have Ford’s racing efforts work to improve the performance of the street vehicle:
“What’s the sense of racing something that doesn’t relate to anything the customer can drive? So especially this car here, is absolutely standard — it’s just what you need for racing… The EcoBoost engine is 100% standard… and that is going hand-in-hand with the development. We learned from the racing program the development for the ST and the other way around as well.”
The team, however, remains hopeful and is walking away knowing what they need to work on.
The Motrolix Take
We’re remaining hopeful as well, especially knowing that the first effort in most racing events is rarely the best. And nothing makes us feel better than the fact that the Focus — a global mainstream vehicle — is receiving such limelight from those within Ford who truly enjoy performance and racing.