A pre-Christmas shakedown at Ford's Dunton facility marked the start of development of the WTCC version of the Global Ford Focus Team Aon will run in the 2012 championship.
The team had already announced their plans for the coming year, taking the Ford name back into the WTCC at the expense of a continued program in the BTCC.
Where as the latest regulations for the British championship are built around two litre turbocharged units the WTCC favours smaller 1.6litre engines, with car running on spec Yokahama tyres.
“The team have been working very hard to get the new WTCC car together in time for testing,” said team principal Mike Earle. “There are more restrictions on the WTCC car than there are on the BTCC version so we've had to change a few elements, and of course the tyres and engine are completely different. The shakedown before Christmas went well, and we're going to be using the majority of January to work on the car in the factory before getting our test programme fully underway on track.”
Following the shakedown the team will spend more time testing the car in the wind tunnel, as well as continuing work on developing the car's suspension in time for an FIA inspection later this month. The car will take to the track again in the UK before a more extensive winter testing program in Spain.
Negotiations with drivers are on-going with two drivers expected to join Tom Chilton for the 2012 campaign.
“It has been very exciting to see the development of this new car,” said Chilton, who took two wins in the BTCC-spec Focus last season. “Of course we're already very familiar with the new Focus, having won races with it in 2011, but there are certain elements which make the WTCC version a different challenge from a driver's perspective. We had our first proper shakedown with the car just before Christmas and hearing the new 1.6 engine fire up was pretty exciting in itself! The engine was incredibly impressive even on its first run and I can't wait to see what else it can do when we get our full test programme underway. We've got a lot of work ahead of us, but it's great to have such a new challenge.”