Sam Philip11 August 2009

Focus RS ’Rings out

Ford’s 300bhp hot hatch misses out on Megane R26.R’s Nurburgring record. Is it time for the silliness to stop?

Ford Focus RS

Apologies for continuing to fuel the great Nurburgring Lap Time Fire, but we thought you'd want to hear about this one: the Ford Focus RS has failed in its bid to break the Renaultsport Megane R26.R's class record.

In conjunction with German magazine Sport-Auto, Ford took its double-hot hatch to the 'Ring with the intention of beating the Megane's time of 8m17s, a record for front-wheel-drive production cars set last summer.

But, in the hands of the excellently named Horst von Saurma Jeltsch, the Focus recorded a time of 8m26s, a full nine seconds off the Renault's record.

Maybe this isn't surprising. The Megane is virtually a race car for the road - slick tyres, stripped-out interior, roll cage - while the Focus, despite packing 300bhp, is a proper hatchback with proper rear seats and proper glass windows.

And, furthermore, without seriously detailed information on the conditions of the track, it's notoriously difficult to read much into 'Ring lap times. Over 14 miles, even the slightest dampness can affect a lap by dozens of seconds, and - though we're sure Herr Jeltsch is a fine driver - detailed local knowledge is invaluable.

Perhaps more importantly, does it matter? Does the fact your car can slide round the ‘Ring a couple of seconds quicker than another make any difference in the real world, on real roads? Has this Nurburgring obsession got out of hand?

That said, Ford, if you're going to play the game, you've got to be prepared to lose. Time for a Superleggera Focus RS, maybe? 

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