Ant Rogers’ tuned Ford Focus XR5 Turbo is bringing the thunder to Down Under…
Queensland, Australia is a peaceful place. Nestled next to the Great Barrier Reef, it’s big, it’s rural and it’s sunny more often than it’s not. Park Ridge, a sparsely populated suburb in the south east of the state, is quieter still – with barely 2500 people spread over six square miles – but there’s a storm brewing. A storm with 430.6 horsepower… at the wheels… on low boost. Loud, lairy and more than a little scary, welcome to the world of Ant Rogers and his tuned Ford Focus XR5 Turbo.
Ant has been lusting after the post-facelift XR5 – that’s an ST to you and me – ever since the model was launched but it would take a while to find the funds. In the years before the Focus arrived, Ant focused his tuning energies on his first project car, a Mazda 323 Astina. ‘When it was finished,’ he remembers, ‘I took my dad out in it and he said it was unsafe to drive.’ Ant’s father was so unimpressed by the Mazda that he suggested they trade in the 323 and Ant’s Ford Escape daily to fund something newer. That something was a 2010 Focus XR5 in Moondust Silver.
Upon collection, Ant’s new car was entirely stock and he intended to keep it that way. His resolve lasted a whole month before an XR5-owning friend provided the tuning trigger. He’d bought his 2008 Focus on exactly the same day of Ant and swiftly called him with news of an irresistible deal: Dreamscience had a sale on. ‘It was a tune up and secondary dongle package for $1000 and we were going to split the cost in half,’ Ant remembers. ‘I couldn’t afford it at the time but he offered to let me pay him back in instalments, so that’s how it all got started!’
Ant had experienced his first tantalising taste of a fast Ford and he wanted more. Over the next four months, he added an assortment of bolt-on performance parts to the car and began custom altering the exterior in his own time before attracting the attention of Troy, the man behind Brisbane tuning house 2XS Racing. ‘He wanted to prototype stuff on my car,’ Ant relates, ‘and he had cheap parts for sale so I went for it.’ A bundle of weeks later, the XR5 had reached Stage 3.
It still wasn’t enough so Ant hurled the Dreamscience Turbo X package at the car. Overnight, the XR5 gained a DS-AET-K04/06 hybrid turbocharger, Bosch 550cc injectors, a Focus RS oil cooler, a larger intercooler, a turboback exhaust system and a Turbo X+ ECU remap. It was enough to keep Ant content. For a bit. Twelve months later, he swapped to a JW Racing Stage 4 package which a strong turbo and even larger injectors.
Then it all went wrong: three piston liners cracked, bending the valves and hydrolocking the engine. ‘Yeah, it wasn’t great: it pretty much screwed the engine. I’d just come back from working the mines and had a little extra cash but I was in two minds: should I part out the car or do I bite the bullet?’ Ant decided to stick with the car but the price of replacement parts saw him take the build in a new direction. ‘I ended up thinking that, if I was going to build it back up, I’d be far better spending the money once on the best parts. That way I won’t have to worry about anything going wrong in the future.’
His new approach lead him to Mostech Race Engines, a professional workshop who build motors for one of the fastest teams in the hyper-competitive V8 Supercars race series. ‘I explained what had happened,’ Ant continues, ‘then asked them to forge the engine and do it right.’ He also asked the team what they’d add to the Duratec inline-five if they were embarking on a money-no-object build, before buying every part they suggested.
While Mostech were blueprinting and balancing the engine, Ant was puzzling over his next choice of turbocharger. He eventually returned to Dreamscience, who created a Stage 5 kit for the XR5. Changes included a Borg Warner S256 turbo, a Turbosmart 38mm external wastegate, a cast turbo manifold and a whole bunch of Focus RS electronics. 2XS Racing then fabricated the intake, downpipe and screamer pipe to make the package work, bringing the car up to 356 wheel horsepower at 24psi of boost.
Ant stuck with the new Dreamscience turbo for 18 months before 2XS Racing suggested another performance leap. ‘Troy knew I’d always wanted a high-mount turbo so we went trade-for-trade. I fitted his workshop out with compressed air and he did all the fabrication work.’ Experimenting with a donor XR5, 2XS Racing soon developed a custom downpipe, turbo manifold and a 45mm screamer pipe for the build.
While Troy was working away, Ant was planning his next move: an even bigger turbocharger, to better take advantage of the rebuilt Mostech engine. Having rerouted the vacuum and fuel lines and heatshielded everything in sight, he soon settled on a massive Borg Warner S300SX-60 T4 twin scroll unit with a Turbosmart 45mm external wastegate and a Vee Port blow off valve. With everything back together, the set up makes 430 wheel horsepower at 24psi. The dyno didn’t go high enough to read the torque output…
There’s more to Ant’s build than motor. Power channels through a seriously trick automatic torque biasing Helical LSD on the way to the front axle, which wears Enkei RSF5 18-inch alloys and 235-section Federal RS-RR semi-slick tyres. To keep that racey rubber on the ground, Ant has also added a Summit Racing strut braces, a Mazda 3 MPS rear anti-roll bar and a set of Pedders Xtreme coilovers. The new suspension gives the XR5 exceptional presence but it’s far more about go than show, benefiting from 30 way adjustable Pedders dampers.
Out on track, Ant soon realised he needed another mod to help the body stand up to the engine’s hammer blows. ‘It used to crack my gauge pod at 24 psi; I went through four of them!’ He settled on a four-point, bolt-in half roll cage, the most extensive in-car strengthening allowed by Aussie road rules. ‘A friend of a friend had it in his Focus RS,’ Ant explains, ‘then my friend got it. It was already Ultimate Green and I badgered him for months before he sold it to me.’
Outside, the XR5 has also seen hundreds of minor changes. There’s carbon fibre wherever you look, from the front grille to the rear spoiler to the door handles, while flashes of Ultimate Green set the whole car off. ‘I don’t have anything particular in mind aesthetically but I’m never happy with it… it’ll always look better if I change something new!’ The overall effect is set off perfectly by a full respray in Mercury Silver: the same colour as the 1969 Mustang owned by Ant’s father.
Inspired by the V8 Supercars he saw at Mostech, Ant has also fitted the XR5 with a custom built quick-remove front bumper. ‘It took about two days of straight work to get the brackets and mountings made,’ he explains, ‘cutting bits off to get it basically into place. Then it took another month of welding and trimming to get it sitting it right. It was worth it though: I take the bumper off whenever I’m working on the car and wanted to make it a ten second job!’
Sat behind the XR5’s custom carbon fibre steering wheel, which was secured through OEM Denied Performance and created by their carbon supplier, Ant still isn’t finished. ‘I’m currently looking at a new ECU, a wide arch RS kit and wider wheels too. Right now, it’s only the baby stages of what it could do.’ Take cover: this storm is growing into a hurricane!
TECH SPEC Ford Focus XR5
Ford Focus XR5 2.5-litre Duratec inline five rebuilt by Mostech Race Engines, fully blueprinted and balanced with custom machined Wiseco forged pistons, 7.9:1 compression ratio, Darton sleeves, custom deck plate, custom drilled coolant passages, K1 H Beam Forged Rods, Sitech Racing Custom Ground Cams, LG Racing stainless intake valves, Inconel forged exhaust valves, ARP head studs, Glyco big and main bearings, Piper titanium valve springs and retainers, 2XS Racing custom 3 inch alloy intake, custom alloy airbox, Borg Warner S300SX-60 T4 twin scroll turbocharger, Turbosmart hypergate 45mm external wastegate, 45mm screamer pipe, 2XS Racing custom 3 inch downpipe and 2XS Racing 3 inch turbo-back exhaust system, 2XS Racing custom sidewinder turbo manifold, Turbosmart Vee Port blow off valve, Aeroflow fittings custom braided turbo oil feed and drain, Dreamscience custom RS fuel hosing with upgraded pressure regulator, Walbro 460lph in-tank fuel pumps, 1000cc fuel injectors, 6AN custom black stainless steel fuel feed line with quick connect couplers, coolant line delete, Winner Racing alloy radiator, Pumaspeed coolant hoses in Monster Green, RDR front mount 19 row oil cooler, 10AN custom braided oil hoses, 2XS Racing custom 3 inch stainless steel hot side piping and 2.5 inch alloy cold side piping, 2XS Racing modified coolant rail, Forge Motorsport race intercooler, Sitech racing plenum, Auto Specialists alloy header tank, Auto Specialists injector rail cover, Auto Specialists billet oil, washer, power steering and dipstick caps, carbon fibre fuse box lid, wing trims and backing panels, RDR oil breather kit, gas bonnet struts, black stainless steel braided vacuum hoses and tucked engine bay wiring, 430.6whp, dyno tested at 24psi.
Ford Focus ST six-speed manual with Helix Autosport six-pack hi-torque clutch, SMF Chromoly lightened flywheel, Quaife limited-slip differential, Timken bearings and Hardrace gearbox mount.
Enkei RSF5 18×8 inch alloys all-round with 235/40/R18 Federal RS-RR tyres all-round and 20mm Garage Line wheel spacers. At time of publication: Simmons 19×10 inch alloys all-round with 275/35/R19 Federal RS-RR tyres, Pedders Xtreme coilovers with 8kg front and 6kg rear spring rates, adjustable dampers set to 10 hard front and 12 hard rear, Mazda 3 MPS rear anti-roll bar, Summit Racing strut brace and Vibratecnics torque mount, K-Sport eight-piston front brake calipers in Ultimate Green, relocated vacuum hose and brake booster.
Focus XR5 bodyshell with custom respray in Mercury Silver, custom quick release front bumper, carbon fibre rear spoiler, bonnet trim, front grille cover, Ford Mark 2 Focus RS bonnet vents, foglight surrounds, boot trim, petrol filler cap, mirror covers, door handle covers and aerial cover, Mick Motorsport Composites custom carbon fibre splitter, ACR Composites WRC air vents, custom modified front lower grille, AJ Autostyle rear bumper, custom sideskirt extensions, Aerocatch bonnet latches, front bonnet latch delete, foglight delete, green Hella horns, custom intercooler fins, genuine Ford Mark 2 Focus RS headlights and CT Auto smoked LED rear lights.
Ford Focus XR5 interior with rear seat delete, rear seat area carpeted, custom four-point bolt-in half rollcage in Ultimate Green, air conditioning delete, battery relocated to boot, replica Recaro Sportster CS front seats, Takata four-point harnesses, custom carbon fibre steering wheel, Mugen carbon fibre gearknob, vent-mounted Little Devil Fords air-fuel ratio gauge, GFB G Force 2 electronic boost controller, fire extinguisher and a pair of Soundwave 12 inch subwoofers, mounted in the rear seat position.
Mostech Race Engines, OEM Denied Performance, Waterford paint, 2XS Racing, Viva Performance, Dreamscience, and all friends and family for putting up with my moods!
Words Emma Woodcock Photos Lucas Croydon