Behind the wheel of a Focus RS at the Utah Motorsports Campus
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Behind the wheel of a Focus RS at the Utah Motorsports Campus

This is a discussion on Behind the wheel of a Focus RS at the Utah Motorsports Campus within the News forums, part of the Site News category; by Evan J. Smith, April 5, 2017 Ford Motor Company’s line-up of performance vehicles is pretty stout. Enthusiasts can select between the affordable 197-hp Fiesta ...

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Thread: Behind the wheel of a Focus RS at the Utah Motorsports Campus

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    Behind the wheel of a Focus RS at the Utah Motorsports Campus

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    by Evan J. Smith, April 5, 2017

    Ford Motor Company’s line-up of performance vehicles is pretty stout. Enthusiasts can select between the affordable 197-hp Fiesta ST, Focus ST, Focus RS, the 526 hp Shelby GT350 or the new 450-horsepower 2017 F-150 Raptor. And in addition to offering such a wide palate of performance, Ford also want its specialty car and truck owners to understand and experience the full capabilities. So with performance in mind, the Detroit automaker offers owners a free specially designed driving course at the Ford Performance Racing School at the Utah Motorsports Campus in Tooele, Utah.

    The UMC, which was formerly named Miller Motorsports Park, is home to a variety of tracks designed for instruction and all-out racing, and it houses the Ford’s Racing School that’s headed up by Dan McKeever and his team of professional instructors.

    Ford wanted us to experience the program since this week it will be introducing two new courses, the RS Adrenaline Academy for the Focus RS and the Raptor Assault, which incorporates an amazing off-road experience for Raptor owners.
    Invite in hand, we headed to UMC and spend a day flinging the Focus RS and climbing and descending with the Raptor. “This is what we want to provide our owners so they feel like a part of the Ford Performance team.” says Jim Owens of Ford. “You get to experience the vehicle in the environment the engineers designed it for and this lets owners tap into the capabilities,” he added.

    Ford’s on-track programs began in 2012 with the Boss 302 Track Attack and it was wildly successful. Ford VP Jim Farley, a performance enthusiasts himself, wanted to give Boss owners something special, so they came up with a course tailored to giving enthusiasts a fun and educational day at the Ford-specific school. Boss owners seized the opportunity and came away impressed and today Ford offers this training at no cost to anyone who purchases a Fiesta ST, Focus ST, Focus RS, Shelby GT350 and starting this year, the Ford Raptor. And in addition, it offers add-on days and options to allow a guest to join in on the fun.

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    Utah Motorsports Campus is located about 20 minutes from Salt Lake City and the facility is a wonderland of hot cars, bikes, karts, trucks and tracks. The full road course is 4.48-miles with 23 turns and the longest straight in North America. Corners have cool names such as Sunset Bend, Dreamboat, Work Out, Scream, Black Rock Hairpin, Right Hook, Knock Out, Demon, Devil, Diablo, Indecision, Precision, Fast, Faster, Gotcha, Mabey Y’ll Makit, Satisfaction, Agony, Ecstasy, 1st Attitude, 2nd Attitude, Bad Attitude, Tooele Turn, Kink, Club House Corner, Wind-Up, and Release. The track can be broken into different configurations, as well. And the garages and other facilities are all first-class.

    Our small media group had a special program set up that enabled us to experience the RS Adrenaline Academy and the Raptor Assault courses all in one day. In this blog I’ll give you the goods on the RS program, check back to learn about the Raptor Assault.

    Like the students, we simply showed up, as the school provides everything necessary for a fun track day. This included a driving suit, helmet and even the car–which in this case is a Focus RS equipped with a roll bar and driver harness.

    Upon arrival, students are treated to a reception and dinner at the Ford Performance Racing School Welcome Center the evening before a full day of events. The Welcome Center houses an example of each vehicle in the program, but also a few museum-quality Fords that add to the ambience. During our trip, we spotted an original Ford GT-40, a pristine 1965 Shelby GT350 and a rare Escort RS200.

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    The actual track day begins with classroom instruction where students learn the finer points of track safety and vehicle dynamics. Instructors explain the importance managing the vehicle’s sprung weight to maximize loading at the contact patches, how to prevent and correct over- and under-steer and how to link corners together on the race track. It’s all designed to help you build a foundation or understanding so you can translate to the track with the useable information.

    Before you know it, you’re behind the wheel, where an instructor will help you find the best seating position, show you how to strap in and how to shift effectively. On track, you’ll be taught how to brake, nail and apex, and exit a corner with control and speed. Owens emphasized that this program is designed for owners to gain experience, he called it “challenge-by-choice” meaning you basically go at your own pace, with no pressure to push beyond your comfort zone.

    We began on the road course, in “Track” mode, first with a lead-and-follow, then with solo hot laps followed by laps with an instructor in the car. Lastly, we rode with the pros, who took the Focus RS to a much higher level.

    In just a few short laps I was blown away by the capabilities of the 2017 Focus RS. With 350hp and all-wheel drive, the RS is a beast, but one that is balanced perfectly and was remarkably easy to drive fast. Cornering was neutral, but you could force a slide with a jab of the throttle on corner exit. The Brembo brakes were a dream, too, I liked the firm pedal feel and didn’t experience any fade. What did I learn? Patience. Letting the RS rotate in the corners and looking far ahead, netted me the greatest exit speed and the smoothest transition between corners.

    The 2.3L EcoBoost has torque in all the right places, so I was able to use Third and Forth gears for the entire track. It even makes that cool, popping-through-the-pipes gaggle when you decelerate for the corners.

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    With my adrenaline still pumping, we headed to the Urban Street Course. There, we tried Launch Control, which allows you to mat the throttle on the line and dump the clutch for quick starts. Once LC is activated, you’re set and ready to launch. The computer lets you go up to 5,000 rpm, and you just dump the clutch and go. Using LC, we could record 0-60 times in the 4.6-second range. In the right hands this is a 12-second quarter-miler, but that’s another story.

    Next, we zipped through a Figure 8 course, testing the RS’s ability to accelerate, brake, rotate around a tight arc, and accelerate in the opposite direction. While that was fun, everyone was itching to try the “Drift” mode on the FPRS Drift Circle.

    Now in Drift mode, I slid the RS around and around, which was huge fun. To achieve a 360-plus degree drift, I started in First gear, cranked the wheel to the left and floored the throttle. As boost came on the RS broke free, the whole car slid in a four-wheel drift and I countered with a touch of steering input to control the arc. To keep it going, I simply modulated the throttle and the steering. Getting a few laps with the tail yawed out took a few tries, but I quickly got the hang of it. This is clearly something owners will try once they master it at the school.

    Our last stop was back on the Urban Street Course, where we ran an autocross-style track for time. Each media guest got a few practice laps then we went for a timed lap. The course incorporated two tight 180-degree turns, a quick straight that led to a slalom, then the Figure 8, then another slalom and finally we had to nail a quick stop. How’d Hot Rod do? We grabbed a podium with a second place finish, only falling short of the win by a couple of tenths to an SCCA Pro.

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    Those attending the RS Adrenaline Academy will experience a full day of this educational madness and walk away with the building blocks for real performance driving, not to mention a really cool Brembo brake caliper trophy and a certificate. You’ll also have the desire to push yourself and learn more which is why I highly recommend adding a day of training if you’re making the trip, or just heading to the school for one of it’s performance driving courses.

    Behind the wheel of a Focus RS at the Utah Motorsports Campus - Hot Rod Network
    Last edited by Hoonigan; 04-08-2017 at 08:36 PM.
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    Nice! I finally just got my invite for the July 19-20 session. Super excited to get one of these cars on an actual track, only ever done autocross!
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    Will everyone simply receive an invite?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Malakaone View Post
    Will everyone simply receive an invite?
    No. You have to sign up on line. 2017 slots effectively 'sold out' in some 42 hours! There is a waiting list you can get on if you call them up directly. I was on the inaugural session April 5th. Brilliant!

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    Pretty frusturating that they don't have enough slots for all of us who bought the RS... i hope they either extend the 1 year rule or add some dates so we all get a chance to attend
    krypt0 likes this.

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