Sep 22, 2015 update to the Ford SVT Focus project car

Rallycross With Rally Tires

After a summer-long break, our Focus hit the dirt again.
The old pads and rotors had seen better days.
Hawk was kind enough to send us a set of their HPS pads, which should be civilized on the street and durable on the track.
After the brake job, we even washed the car.
Our Chevy Colorado project towed our Focus like it wasn't even there.
The SVT Focus only made it through one run before limping back to the paddock.
We rolled the fenders with a hammer, as our knobby tires rub during tight corners.
The car seemed down on power, so we changed the fuel filter.
Then, it dropped two cylinders. After a few tests, we determined that the coil pack, plug wires, and spark plugs had all failed. Sometimes luck and cheap parts come together in a perfect storm.
The FIRM's courses are a tad more intense than the average rallycross. We were even airborne at one point.
Our competition seemed to know what they were doing.
During the brake job, we managed to forget to adjust our emergency brake. Instead of handbrake turns, we had to use huge, time-consuming Scandinavian flicks to rotate the car around each hairpin.
Want to subscribe to the magazine? No problem–we'll have the booth set up at the next Central Florida Region rallycross.

After learning the basics of rallycross on street tires, we bolted much more aggressive rubber onto our 2003 Ford SVT Focus. Then, in true 21-year-old fashion, we broke our collarbone mountain biking. This meant that the Focus spent its summer sitting in the driveway, Maxxis rally tires still proudly mounted on Team Dynamics wheels. Meanwhile, its broken driver sat on the couch. Hey–at least we could still race on Forza.

After a summer of waiting, we were finally ready to race again. So, after a bath and a brake job (special thanks to Hawk Performance for hooking us up with a set of HPS Brake pads, we headed over to our favorite rallycross venue: the FIRM. Their RallyX at the FIRM series of events are rallycrosses on steroids, with courses that approach four minutes in length and cover all sorts of different surfaces. Plus, there are unlimited practice runs.

How’d it go? After one practice run, the Focus’s once-intermittent ignition issue turned into two dead cylinders. We spent most of the day diagnosing and replacing broken parts, but ended it with seven clean runs. After a summer away from the wheel, we’ll call that a success.

Of course, we also came back from the event with a laundry list of changes and fixes to complete before our next race. We might have even scraped a hole in the exhaust–hey, they say rubbin’s racin’.

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Comments

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Lof8
Lof8 HalfDork
9/22/15 12:40 p.m.

I'm glad you guys were able to get some runs in! Do you happen to have any photos of the gray Ranger truck that was there? That was me :) I'm trying to gather some pics if possible. Thanks.

Ed Higginbotham
Ed Higginbotham Editorial Assistant
9/22/15 1:43 p.m.

That was you?! We were talking all weekend about how awesome the Ranger was. Wish we had come over to say hi. I'll look through our pictures and see if we snapped some of you.

Lof8
Lof8 HalfDork
9/22/15 3:38 p.m.
Ed Higginbotham wrote: That was you?! We were talking all weekend about how awesome the Ranger was. Wish we had come over to say hi. I'll look through our pictures and see if we snapped some of you.

yeah! It was the Ranger's first real outing, pretty fun! I came in late and was parked down at the end of the line. I came your way to talk with my buddy, John, in the miata, but you guys were busy underneath the car troubleshooting. I'm glad you got to get some runs in, no fun with a broken car!

 photo 600B3AB8-E757-462C-8405-808A37B76F68_zpsmcd2x2jv.jpg

irish44j
irish44j PowerDork
9/22/15 3:38 p.m.

Tell your guys at Maxxis to sell some 14" gravels and then I'll be interested....lol

Brett_Murphy
Brett_Murphy PowerDork
9/22/15 3:48 p.m.

Four minutes?

I'm envious.

Nick (Not-Stig) Comstock
Nick (Not-Stig) Comstock PowerDork
9/22/15 4:53 p.m.
Lof8 wrote:
Ed Higginbotham wrote: That was you?! We were talking all weekend about how awesome the Ranger was. Wish we had come over to say hi. I'll look through our pictures and see if we snapped some of you.

yeah! It was the Ranger's first real outing, pretty fun! I came in late and was parked down at the end of the line. I came your way to talk with my buddy, John, in the miata, but you guys were busy underneath the car troubleshooting. I'm glad you got to get some runs in, no fun with a broken car!

 photo 600B3AB8-E757-462C-8405-808A37B76F68_zpsmcd2x2jv.jpg

I'd like to learn more about rallyxing a small pickup. Care to elaborate a little? Is there a build thread or other thread somewhere that may be of interest?

Lof8
Lof8 HalfDork
9/22/15 5:23 p.m.

I haven't done a whole lot to it really but it's a lot of fun! The few mods are discussed in this thread: Truck and other stuff.

irish44j
irish44j PowerDork
9/22/15 5:29 p.m.

we've had various smallish pickups come to our events over the years. Mitsu Mighty Max, Toyotas, etc. They do OK but in stock-ish classes most of them are pretty underpowered (since generally the low compact trucks came with pretty measly engines), and in prepared classes they aren't particularly quick either, especially since the suspension designs and relative weight imbalance are really not as good as most of the popular RWD rallycross cars. I'm sure there are people who do well in pickups out there (depending on course and terrain type I'd say), but I haven't seen any that terribly impressed me in the last four years of rallycross, nor any that could come close to the top cars in RWD classes around here. YMMV though. I do, however, hear almost all of their drivers say that they're fun as hell to drive, since it's so easy to hang the rear end out.

On the upside, hauling all your gear there is easy, and if you run someplace that gets really muddy a lot, you have a ton of tire options in all-terrain sizes that won't fit most passenger cars. So that woudl be a big upside for muddy or particularly rough venues.

Nick (Not-Stig) Comstock
Nick (Not-Stig) Comstock PowerDork
9/22/15 8:37 p.m.
Lof8 wrote: I haven't done a whole lot to it really but it's a lot of fun! The few mods are discussed in this thread: Truck and other stuff.

Holy Toledo, You have way more fun than I have!

rcutclif
rcutclif Dork
9/22/15 9:49 p.m.

Ok, maybe not your average small pickup. But it looks like fun to me!

rcutclif
rcutclif Dork
9/22/15 9:52 p.m.

What ended up being the issue with the focus? I had a problem with the crank position sensor wire sheathing melting from the header heat, and then subsequently the wires corroded. Caused all sorts of intermittent issues.

Replaced the wires, put some scavenged heat shield (took from an A/C line from a car I used to have) on the wires and its been great since.

Ed Higginbotham
Ed Higginbotham Editorial Assistant
9/23/15 8:36 a.m.

Well, the coil tested bad, three of the plugs were cracked, and all four wires tested with entirely too much resistance. Best I can tell, the coil blew and took the rest out with it.

ojannen
ojannen New Reader
9/24/15 6:57 a.m.

I was there in my old red bmw. My times were in the 3:30-3:50 range which is on the slow side compared to other cars there. I also got well into third gear which is a first for me in rallycross. Considering the 12 or 15 practice runs and 6 timed runs, I think I got over an hour of track time.

See you guys this weekend for six and a half minutes of glory at the scca rallycross.

Furious_E
Furious_E Reader
9/24/15 7:55 a.m.

What are the rules in SCCA rally cross regarding rollover risk? Or, more to the point, would an XJ Cherokee be legal? This looks like too much fun to be missing out on

Tom Suddard
Tom Suddard Associate Editor
9/24/15 8:22 a.m.

I've run against XJs at SCCA events, so you're probably ok.

And ojannen, CFR SCCA just canceled their Rallycross. I won't be seeing you there, after all.

EvanB
EvanB UltimaDork
9/24/15 8:31 a.m.

Did I miss the part of the article that evaluated the rally tires?

Kylini
Kylini HalfDork
9/24/15 9:05 a.m.
Furious_E wrote: What are the rules in SCCA rally cross regarding rollover risk? Or, more to the point, would an XJ Cherokee be legal? This looks like too much fun to be missing out on

It really depends on how much the club wants to lose their safety steward licenses. Unlike autocross, visiting rallycross stewards are compelled to report violations and cancel the event sanction if no action is taken.

We don't let stock Foresters run. XJs are worse.

However, I'm totally not a steward so I've enjoyed rallycross events with XJs, Tacomas, and S2000s without roofs.

EvanB
EvanB UltimaDork
9/24/15 9:53 a.m.

In reply to Kylini:

We allow Foresters and Crosstreks to run. We had a lifted XJ come out and had to turn them away. Stock XJ may be allowed. It all depends on the region and safety steward if they feel it is safe to run at that specific site.

Tom Suddard
Tom Suddard Associate Editor
9/24/15 9:56 a.m.
EvanB wrote: Did I miss the part of the article that evaluated the rally tires?

I only had 1 run, with the rest being new drivers learning the car and the sport. A full review at this point wouldn't do them justice, so look for that after the next event. After 1 run, I can definitely say there was more grip, though.

Brett_Murphy
Brett_Murphy PowerDork
9/24/15 9:01 p.m.
Kylini wrote: We don't let stock Foresters run. XJs are worse.

Why not? The 2008 and earlier are really Impreza wagons and don't have a rollover warning sticker. The 2009 and later models are different.

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