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Ford Focus Rallycar Flies in First Snow Tests

16 December 1998

The all-new Ford Focus World Rally Car has successfully completed its first full week of testing in Norway. Britains Colin McRae enjoyed three days at the wheel of Fords challenger for 1999 FIA World Rally Championship honours. McRae drove the Focus hard at several different locations and highlighted the new cars pace by beating the special stage time in one test by over 10 seconds. Colins Ford World Rally team mates, Thomas Rdstrm and Simon Jean-Joseph, who will each drive the second Ford Focus on selected 1999 events, took over testing duties for the remainder of the week.

"This was my first proper test with the Ford Focus and I drove it really hard," enthused McRae. "I went flat out - theres no point driving any other way. The Focus felt really good and we had no major technical problems or breakdowns. I am optimistic about 1999 and the results of this weeks hard work in Norway bode well for the future."

During five days of testing near the town of Rodberg, north of Oslo, the new car covered over 600 kilometres without incident, despite minus 20 degree temperatures and heavy snow falls which blanketed the mountainous roads.

"We are all very encouraged by the past week," commented Malcolm Wilson, Director of the Ford World Rally team. "Theres still a long way to go, but we have taken a big step forward and come away from Norway with a good store of technical data and driver feedback which will help us finalise the specification and set-up of the Focus WRC cars for the Swedish Rally in February."

The Ford World Rally team will be undertaking two further test sessions with the new Ford Focus at locations in the south of France prior to the cars competition debut on the Monte Carlo Rally in mid-January.

Ford will enter two Ford Focus WRC cars in each of the 14 rounds in the 1999 World Championship with Colin McRae tackling every event and the second car being driven by Jean-Joseph on asphalt rallies and Rdstrm on gravel events.