Ford Focus can fly in Sanremo

The Ford squad has warned that their Focus should not be underestimated on the sealed surfaces of the next three world championship rallies in Sanremo, Corsica and Catalunya.

Ford Focus can fly in Sanremo

Markko Martin is substantial 18 points down in the title battle in spite of being the man to beat on certain gravel events during the summer. He was let down by rotten reliability in potentially winning positions in New Zealand, Cyprus and Argentina, but says his asphalt pace shouldn't be forgotten.

"I always expected the Focus to be good on asphalt," said Martin. "But I must admit I was surprised just how good the package was on the last asphalt round in Germany. Hopefully we can use that performance as a base for the more traditional asphalt events."

Both Malcolm Wilson, Ford's team director, and Christian Loriaux (technical director) have always maintained that the car would be better suited to the October rallies than the one in Germany, where Martin unexpectedly won ten out of 22 stages.

"Sanremo is the most difficult of the three events," continued Martin. "The roads are narrow and bumpy and the weather is inconsistent. On the south side of the mountains it can be dry and sunny, but over on the north side it can be almost dark under the trees and quite humid. If you encounter these conditions on the same stage it's difficult to make the right tyre choice."

Martin has started five times in Sanremo, which takes place this weekend and is the first of three asphalt rallies in four weeks. His best finish on the Italian event, however, is the fifth place he picked up last year.

Martin's team-mate François Duval will be relishing the chance to get back on asphalt after a torrid middle part of the year. The Belgian far prefers sealed roads and is also particularly fond of the Italian stages.

The Ford team has left nothing to chance and spent four days testing in the San Remo region last week. The team will be running revised transmission, hydraulics and and upgraded (and "widely tested") Cosworth engine.

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