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TWIST OF FATE: TUNED FORD FOCUS RS MK1

TWIST OF FATE: TUNED FORD FOCUS RS MK1

Posted by Matt Bell on 15th June 2020

After missing out on buying this Focus RS several times, Dave Hancock finally locked it down and then spent a year transforming it into a 481bhp stunner! This is his tuned Ford Focus RS Mk1.

Getting what you want out of life often comes down to nothing more than timing. Landing that dream job, meeting your other half and, of course, having kids. You can do everything right, but if the timing is off (or your aim!), things can go pear-shaped very quickly. The concept of timing is something anyone into cars can relate to. How many times have you seen the perfect car for sale, only for it to be the wrong time? Not enough cash; just bought a house – you get the idea.

For Dave Hancock, owner of this fiery Focus RS, his timing was way off.

Tuned Ford Focus RS Mk1

“I’d wanted this particular car for a number of years and missed it several times when it was for sale as I always took too long to make a decision,” he admits. “My brother has owned his Mk1 Focus RS from when it was 18 months old and I always loved that car. It was fairly modified from the beginning being Superchips’ demo car; it had the first Turbo Technics hybrid in the country and was one of the first GT28-converted cars back in the day. I guess from back then I always wanted a big-power Mk1 Focus.”

Dave duly got himself a Mk1 and proceeded to have great fun with it, but he always had a soft spot for the one that got away. Then, in 2017, the car became available again.

Tuned Ford Focus RS Mk1

“I noticed the Focus was for sale at a local garage so thought I would take a look. It had no MoT and wouldn’t start when I viewed it, so I went back with my good friend Andy Fisher to have a check over, and he gave me the go ahead. The deal was done that same night and I ended up buying it for my birthday.”

Having missed the opportunity to own his dream Ford for so long, Dave decided that he’d make the most of it and began looking at upgrades almost immediately.

“I planned to keep it as it was for the first few days, until my mind ran wild. The car was very clean, had decent power and was well known on the Focus RS scene as ‘K7’ (due to the reg). My other Focus RS was up at PERON at the time having a twin-scroll turbo set-up designed and I planned to keep that car too, initially.” However, that soon changed when he got the car back from the turbo system specialists.

“After getting my original car back I decided to modernise the new one and sell my old one, as the setup hadn’t changed much in the last ten years. Most of the previous owners had done very little other than clean it. It still had a big GT30 on it that was really laggy; the new turbo is night and day compared to that.” Dave continues:

“The work has taken around 12 months. Kev Jones (the original owner) did a fantastic job of building the car, so for me it was only a case of bringing it up to date. Charlie and his team at PERON did an awesome job on the turbo setup. Trying to squeeze a twin-scroll unit into the small space in the Focus bay was not easy; I didn’t want to go top-mounted, so ended up sacrificing the air conditioning in the end, it was the only way to fit it.”

Once the twin-scroll unit was fitted, it was time to start setting the car up for maximum fun, with the job being entrusted to one of the most respected names in the game, Mark Shead at MA Developments.

“Mark has had the car several times for mapping as the spec changed a few times over the last 18 months. It’s also had a couple of turbos and different boost control,” explains Dave. “Originally we encountered surge at high boost which led me back to Charlie at PERON for anti-surge, then back to Mark for mapping. The car was pulling hard and was super-responsive; full boost was available at just 3300rpm (at 2-bar) it was such an exhilarating drive. I soon got bored, though, and Charlie supplied me a larger, twin-scroll Borg Warner EFR7163. Mark had the car back again and although it was a little bit laggier, it gave a 30bhp increase and 40lb.ft – at the same boost level.”

With a solid 481bhp achieved, Dave was more than happy, but there’s more to this RS than a juicy power figure; it’s been developed so that it’s very usable, with a nice, linear power delivery; perfect for the road.

Although the engine, and specifically the turbo system, are at the heart of the car, this RS has been fully enhanced in every other essential area.

The chassis has been beefed up with fully adjustable KW Variant 3 coilovers, while uprated anti-roll bars and Hardrace adjustable rear arms help keep the handling on point.

When it came to the wheels, Dave fancied something a little different to the usual Comps that many FRS owners go for. The Raceline RL7s really suit the Focus and wrapped in Bridgestone Potenza rubber, they also help to transmit the full force of that 481bhp to the road.

The great thing about a tuned Mk1 Focus RS is that it delivers a raw, visceral experience. New cars seem to have this ‘hooligan factor’ dialled out, but one of these, knocking on the door of 500bhp is guaranteed to keep you amused. Thankfully, Dave’s car has been fitted with some decent stoppers in the form of AP Racing six-pots up front gripping 362mm discs. There are matching four-pots at the rear and even a hydraulic handbrake for those rally-inspired moments.

Pop your head inside and you’ll find a very well-cared for interior, that’s been subtly enhanced. The OEM look has been retained by fitting some Mk2 Focus RS seats, which really do look the part. A grippy little OMP steering wheels adds to the driving experience, while the rally feel is further enhanced by the flocked dash.

Tuned Ford Focus RS Mk1

A confirmed carbon addict, Dave has used the black weave wherever he can including the dial surround, air vents and centre console. “I even had the parcel shelf done in carbon – it’s the first one I’ve seen,” he says.

As with many Focus RS owners, Dave reckoned Ford got the exterior pretty much bang on from the factory, but that hasn’t stopped him adding a few additional upgrades. The WRC-style bonnet and rear wing are the main stand out parts, but look closer and you’ll also spot a liberal splash of carbon on the front grille and fog light and vent surrounds.

“I have to say a big thanks to Ian Howell for the hours spent on the phone discussing cam specs and inlet manifold design – pretty much anything technical on the car. He’s been a huge help in speccing the car right and modifying some parts which still haven’t found there way onto it yet,” says Dave.

“Also my great friend Andy Fisher, former Brooklyn Ford RS specialist, for spending countless days/weekends and hours on the phone making sure the car is always on point. Andy has been there every step of the way and it wouldn’t be where it is without him. And my good friend Shane Tudor for all of his help and convincing me so many times not to sell the car.” With the car running well, the next step is to look at a WRC inlet and head, but one thing’s for sure, Dave isn’t letting this one get away from him.

Tech Spec: Tuned Ford Focus RS Mk1:

Engine:

2.0-litre Duratec RS (Zetec Turbo); lightened; knife-edged and shot-peened crankshaft; Eagle steel H-beam rods; Area Six-spec CP forged pistons; John Middleton gas-flowed and ported cylinder head; Area Six valve springs; Piper inlet camshaft; Piper Vernier cam pulleys; PERON twin-scroll manifold (Zircotec coated); Borg warner EFR7163 twin-scroll turbo with anti-surge; PERON 3in downpipe (Zircotec coated); Area Six inlet manifold; 1000cc injectors; PERON 4in custom induction kit; Walbro fuel pump and Formula One low-pressure pump; Primary Designs exhaust with titanium rear; Pro Alloy engine breather; Spec R intercooler; billet thermostat housing; alloy header tank; Pro Alloy water swirl pot; Pro Alloy radiator; Samco/Roose hoses; Vibratechnics mounts

Power:

481bhp

Transmission:

CTS blueprinted gearbox; shot-peened and case-polished gear set; AP 6-paddle clutch; Quaife diff

Suspension:

KW Variant 3 coilovers; uprated front and rear anti-roll bar; Hardrace adjustable rear arms; poly-bushed throughout

Brakes:

AP Racing 6-pots with 362mm discs (front); AP Racing 4-pots (rear); Wilwood hydraulic handbrake

Wheels & Tyres:

18in Raceline RL7 Group A fitment; Bridgestone Potenza 235/40×18

Exterior:

WRC bonnet; WRC spoiler; carbon front splitter; fog light surrounds and top grille surround

Interior:

Focus RS Mk2 interior; OMP steering wheel; flocked dash; carbon speedo surround with gauge holder, stereo surround, complete centre console, air vent surrounds, hinge covers and parcel shelf

Feature taken from Fast Ford magazine. Word and Photos: Davy Lewis.