Our modern Ford Focus Mk1 rally car is a true tribute to the late Ken Block | Taza Khabre

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  • Ken Block was a famous rally car driver and Hoonigan driver who drove the number 43 car in the World Rally Championship and took his biggest victory in a Ford Focus RS in 2010.
  • The Ford Focus RS, particularly the Mk I version, was a popular and successful hot hatchback that demonstrated the combination of practicality and performance in a small family car.
  • HotCars artist Timothy Edry Emmanuel’s stunning rendering pays tribute to Ken Block’s legacy and love of the Ford Focus by showing a modified Mk I Ford Focus RS with a mid-engine layout and active aero system.


2023 began with the sad loss of American rally car driver and Hoonigan enthusiast Ken Block. Known for driving the number 43 car in the World Rally Championship (WRC), Block’s biggest win came in a Ford Focus RS in 2010 for the Monster World Rally Team when he finished second.

His legacy and the car live on in many ways, including this stunning rendering from HotCars artist Timothy Edry Emmanuel. Think of it as a celebration of Hoonigan’s founder and the overlooked Ford hatchback whose Mk I version never reached the US.

Introduced in 1988, the Ford Focus Mk I was one of the first hot hatchbacks, proving that small family vehicles could be as fun as they were practical and comfortable. Of course, by the time Ken Block got hold of the RS version and prepared it for the WRC, it bore no resemblance to the real car on the inside. So here’s a little page from Ken Block’s heritage book featuring a Mk I Ford Focus RS hot hatchdecorated with the number 43.

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Ken Block was a firm believer in the Ford Focus

In October 1998, Ford surprised fans by introducing the Focus in three- and five-door hatchbacks, a stylish sedan and a station wagon. It also put in a range of engines, with a four-pot 1.4, 1.6, 1.8, and 2.0-litre Zetec petrol working through a five-speed manual gearbox.

Ken Block, on the other hand, finished second in the WRC in a Ford Focus RS WRC built specifically for the Ford World Rally Team by Ford of Europe and M-Sport. It is based on the 2.0-liter Ford Focus Climate hatchback. In 2009, the Ford Focus RS WRC used a 2.0-liter Pipo Duratec WRC engine with four cylinders and 16 valves. It also had a Pi electronic engine management system, Garrett turbocharger, air intercooler and catalytic converter.

Later in 2016/17, Block once again used one of the two special Focus RS RXs for the FIA ​​World Rallycross Championship, created in collaboration between Ford Performance, M-Sport and Hoonigan Racing Division. Although it looked like a regular Ford Focus on the outside, inside it had a 2.0-liter 600 hp engine, powerful suspension and carbon fiber body panels. Finally, there was an improved aerodynamic system that included a giant multi-part wing.

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The rendering is an homage to Ken Block’s Ford Focus

This render is based on the Mk I Focus RS favored by Ken Block, with a mid-engined layout instead of the original and an active aero system. The artist also added a wide body kit, giving the car a muscular and aggressive look. In addition, Emmanuel added graphics that look very similar to Hoonigan’s RS RX with its iconic zebra pattern on the blue paint and Ken Block’s number “43” visible next to the Monster logo.

As for the engine, it could be a modified version of Block’s 209-horsepower 2.0-liter four-cylinder, but then again, given the mid-engine placement in this rendering, it could be something more powerful. One option is the twin-turbo EcoBoost V6 from the Ford F-150 Raptor, because the V8 might be too powerful for the little Focus.

The roof features a bucket and side air intakes to allow the virtual engine to breathe better, while the wide air grills at the rear draw inspiration from many iconic rally hot hatchbacks, including the Renault 5 Turbo’s mid-engined engine. While Block’s Focus had a two-stage spoiler, there is a more active aerodynamic system in the form of the front wings and rear quarter panels. These flaps open when the rider brakes for added drag and stopping power, and of course look super neat while doing so.

RELATED: What sports car fans should know about the Ford Focus RS

The Ford Focus RS had an interesting clutch assist

HotCars Photo © 2023 Valnet

Although Ken Block favored the Ford Focus RS Mk I body, neither it nor the Mk II made it to the US, meaning neither the Ford Focus RS Mk I. The original Ford Focus RS debuted in 2002 thanks to Ford’s involvement in the WRC, even if he is slightly behind his rivals. While the Subaru Impreza and Mitsubishi Lancer Evo were four-wheel drive hot hatches, the Focus RS was front-wheel drive. Even so, the Focus RS was a target weapon on the track, officially going from 0 to 60 mph in 6.4 seconds, although many drivers claimed it was under 6.0 seconds. It wasn’t even that expensive at the time, with a starting price of over $23,000 (in 2002 GBP/USD).

It blew the competition away, and a top speed of 244mph kept the Ford Focus RS on par with them on the tracks. With 209 horsepower and 229 lb-ft of torque, the highlight of the Ford Focus RS, which also split the driving world down the middle, was its Quaife Torque Biasing differential. It was a pretty clever traction tool that either reduced or increased the power going to the front wheels. Although this made the Ford Focus RS a quick drive, it was quite aggressive, demanding the driver’s full attention at all times, especially if the roads were bumpy.

This original first generation or Mk I Ford Focus RS looked very similar to the standard Focus – a trick Ford also used with the Ford Taurus and Ford Taurus SHO. Nevertheless, it was an improved front-wheel-drive hot hatch with mostly new or retuned parts.

ON THE SUBJECT: Eulogy for Ford Focus RS

The Ford Focus arrived in the US as the Mk III

Blue 2017 Ford Focus RS
Ford

Finally, in 2010, Ford debuted the Focus in the U.S. as a four-door sedan and five-door hatchback with a new 160-horsepower 2.0-liter inline-four engine. It was part of Ford CEO Alan Mulally’s One Ford plan, in which he planned to use Ford’s global resources to build better and more competitive cars around the world.

This new Ford Focus is based on the design of the Ford Kinetic with changes to both the exterior and interior, as well as adding some high-end touches. Designers also used a “third-age suit” to simulate the physical limitations of the elderly, allowing the interior to be better developed so that the Ford Focus can target all drivers.

By 2016, the third-generation RS came into play with the 2.3 EcoBoost engine from the Ford Mustang, retuned to 350 hp. and the same torque. Although Ford continued to produce the Ford Focus in Europe and other countries, it was deregistered in the US by 2019. There are also no plans for a Ford Focus RS Mk IV, meaning the Focus RS Mk III is the only car to buy if you’re also a Focus and Ken Block fan. You can import a Mk I or Mk II or buy one already in the US brought in by fans. majority Ford Focus RS models retail for around $35,000 to $45,000according to Classic.com.

Sources: Ken Block’s YouTube channel, Hagerty, classic.com

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