The iconic AG Motorsport Cosworth-powered Focuses are somewhat of a legend in Ford tuning circles. Their agility, phenomenal speed, and sheer nuttiness will live on forever in Blue Oval folk law. But don’t think the tale of the epic Cossie Focus is over just yet, oh no. In fact, it may well just be getting started…
Before we start looking ahead to what’s in store for the latest incarnation of this truly awesome machine, let’s briefly remind ourselves of its beginnings and how it earned its stripes. The story really starts back in 2006 when good mates Charlie Shaw (current owner) and Andrew Gallacher (the guy who built the car) were at a track day together. Back then both were piloting well-specced Escort Cosworths, that was until Charlie’s car developed an injector leak which resulted in the whole car going up in flames.
That was the key turning point that gave birth to the whole Cossie-powered Focus episode. Charlie remembers: “Andy was talking about building a Cosworth-engine Focus for a while, and after the Escort caught fire I told Andy to go ahead and build one.” That was a Mk1 shape Focus, and featured a 575bhp YB motor up front. “That was the first engine I’d ever had built by Harvey Gibbs,” recalls Charlie, “and I knew immediately it was the right choice. That’s why he’s built all of my engines since.”
After the Mk1, Andy then built himself a Mk2 version – this time with a 650bhp-plus YB – that he could use to compete in the Scottish Saloon Championships. Then, in 2008, Andy decided to build himself another, even faster, even more mental Mk2 shape Focus. This time no expense, or effort, was spared and a custom shell, carbon-panelled, monster was born. At this point Andy removed the engine from the first Mk2 creation, tweaked with it a bit to give around 670bhp, and sold the first version to… you guessed it, Charlie. Charlie fitted the 575bhp motor from his previous Mk1 variant and the pair competed in the SSC with a duo of Cossie-powered Focus Mk2s for a couple of years.
The pair constantly evolved side-by-side, until Andy’s example was singing to the tune of 806bhp! Then Andy decided he wanted to go rallying, so his carbon-clad Focus was up for grabs, and there are no surprises for guessing who was at the front of the queue – Charlie.
“The first I’d even sat in the car was on the way to the grid for the first race,” laughs Charlie. But he instantly took to the car, and dominated the first half of the season in the SCC, often lapping the majority of the field in the process!
But putting 800bhp and over 600lb/ft through a 2-litre YB does pose a few problems, namely keeping the thing from grenading itself apart! “At that power level and with that amount of torque, the crank just throws itself out of the bottom of the engine, cracking the block in the process” Charlie explains. This was becoming a frequent problem too.
And that brings us pretty much up to date.
New for 2013, Knockhill introduced a Time Attack-style ‘fastest single lap wins’ competition called Super Lap Scotland. Charlie entered the event, and, as you’d expect, won the first two rounds. But the reoccurring problem of cracking blocks came back to haunt Charlie again. “I actually won the second round of the SLS with a split block,” he recalls, “I knew there was enough oil in the dry sump tank to last for at least one single flying lap (around eight litres) so I went for it anyway!” Charlie and the Focus left Knockhill with the winner’s trophy, but also with another cracked engine block.
However, there was a cure. Due to the YB’s incredible dominance in motorsport, it is still the choice engine for many track, rally, and rallycross machines. And, as a direct result, tuners all over the world are constantly fiddling with it, developing new parts or trying new tricks to see just how far they can push its power limits. One of these new components was the aluminium alloy block casting from Smith and Jones. The new block is not only 14mm taller and much lighter than the traditional cast iron item, it’s significantly stronger too. Specifically designed for big power applications, it features all the modern-day engine design tricks you’d expect to find on a race motor. This was the answer to Charlie’s problems, and holds the key to the Focus’ latest, nigh-on 1000bhp incarnation!
While Charlie was ordering the block, something else caught his eye too – a revised casting for the YB’s cylinder head. “The standard head has limitations of how big you can take the ports before you start encroaching on the waterways. Smith and Jones had redesigned a head with relocated waterways, so you could run massive ports. It’s designed mainly for N/A engines, but we were keen to see what it would do on a turbo engine, so I had one of those as well,” shrugs Charlie.
The new block and head, along with a specially designed long-throw crankshaft from Arrow, were sent to the SCS workshops along with all the other parts from the previous 800bhp engine. There, Harvey, Jim and the rest of the crew got to work assembling the motor. “Harvey wanted to use the new parts to build a reliable and safe 800bhp-plus motor, but I told him ‘no’. I wanted 1000bhp!” smirks Charlie, “The car drove perfectly with 800bhp – which shows what a great job Andy did when building the chassis – and I knew it could comfortably take more power, so that’s what I wanted ”
Initial dyno tests showed the GT40 turbo originally intended for use was causing huge backpressure beyond 810bhp mark, causing the engine to struggle to produce much more power. So, a few different turbo set-ups were tried, including ‘borrowing’ a GT4202R from David Boyle. With this monster fitted the power started creeping into the 900s. With some more tweaks here and there the last few pulls on the dyno saw the new alloy-block YB produce 989bhp!
In race trim with all the ancillaries fitted this is knocked back to 956bhp, but don’t think that’s where it all ends. There is currently three map settings: low boost (if you can call it that) that gives 827bhp; medium boost that gives 911bhp; and high boost that gives 956bhp. However, the crew are currently working on a ‘full-beans’, single-lap map that will be over 1000bhp! Charlie explains that as the new engine uses a 4Bar MAP sensor, well over 40psi of boost is possible. And currently the injectors are operating at a very safe 75%, so there’s definite scope to increase the boost without the fuelling becoming an issue. He adds: “for every extra one psi of boost, the power increases by a minimum of 10bhp.” So 1000bhp for a ‘hot lap’ map setting is well within reach!
The target to get the new engine ready for was the remaining two rounds of the SLS, but Charlie agreed this deadline was too tight so aimed to make the last round of the Time Attack series at Brands Hatch instead. This was a goal he achieved, but the outcome was far from desirable. “We were rushing around making minor repairs to the car, and didn’t realise the day was running behind schedule. We got the car finished just in time for what we though was our slot, but everything was running 30mins late. That meant Andy went out in the wrong session and got black flagged,” shrugs Charlie, “but with the pace he was showing I genuinely think he could have won that event.”
Andy was given the job of piloting the Focus because, although Charlie can pedal, he admits that Andy is around a second per lap quicker than him at almost every track, and to give the car and it’s new engine the best chance possible to show what it can do Charlie asked his best mate to take the wheel.
The early bath at Brands was a massive disappointment for all those involved, but one good thing has come out of it – Charlie has unfinished business with the Time Attack series and, as the organisers have kindly welcomed him and his epic Focus back for next season, he’s looking to take the Championship crown! 2014 is going to be a very interesting, not to mention entertaining, Time Attack season. We wish him all the best.
Before the days of the Focuses Charlie used to get his kicks from an Escort Cosworth…
…that was until an injector leak caused the whole car to catch fire.
Some parts did live on though, and ended up forming the basis for the first Cosworth-powered Focus
Andy then built a Cossie-powered Mk2 Focus
Charlie then bought the first of the Mk2s while Andy built himself another, even better MK2 machine. The two cars raced in the SSC together.
Charlie bought the second Mk2 when Andy decided to go rallying, by now the car featured an 806bhp engine
New alloy block YB was built and produced 989bhp on the dyno.
Further tweaks see the car with over 1000bhp, ready to take on Time Attack in 2014
2234cc Cosworth YB, Smith & Jones alloy block (14mm taller than stock), Smith & Jones redesigned head casting with large ports, SCS-spec profile cams, uprated double valve springs, SCS-design extra long con rods (14mm longer), SCS-design short pistons, Arrow long-stroke crankshaft, Pace dry sump system with direct oil drain from the cylinder head, new custom made SCS-spec CNC-machined inlet manifold designed to match enlarged inlet ports, eight Siemens 875cc side by side injectors, SCS-spec oversize tubular exhaust manifold with twin scroll T4 flange and external wastegate, Garrett GT4202R twin scroll turbo, Pro Alloy custom intercooler, Pro Alloy custom cooling radiator, Davies Craig electric water pump, ATI super damper, Pectel T6 2000 ECU, custom made wiring loom.
Low boost – 827bhp; medium boost – 911bhp; high boost – 956bhp. Hot-lap 1000bhp map to come very soon.
FFD 6 speed sequential 4×4 gearbox, paddle shift operation with clutchless up and down shifts, 9in Ricardo rear diff, 7in R&D front diff, AG Motorsport custom independent rear axle, AG Motorsport custom front diff cradle and suspension set up, Escort Cosworth Group A front hubs (all round), custom front and rear driveshafts, custom propshaft.
Brembo WRC Focus front tarmac brake calipers on 385mm discs, AP Racing rear calipers with 355mm discs, AP Racing ‘upside down’ pedal box with pull cylinders.
Ohlins 3 way adjustable dampers all round with various spring rate options, Group A-style bladed anti roll bars front and rear.
Custom made dash, steering column, etc, AG custom made t45 light weight roll cage, Recaro carbon fibre seat, custom switch panels, custom instrument panels, AIM data logger with GPS and Smarty cam in-car camera, front and rear brake pressure monitor
AG custom made, WRC Focus carbon panels from M-Sport, geniune WRC rear spoiler, WRC front and rear carbon bumpers, WRC alloy bonnet, WRC alloy tailgate, Andy Forest custom front splitter.
Wheels and Tyres
Custom-made Compomotive MO6 alloys, 10×18 ET15 (for dry conditions) and 9×18 ET15 (for the wet and drifting)
Andrew Gallacher for helping and all the advice, Scott Mcminn Motorsport for all the fabrication work, Kenny at Omnitool Precision Engineering, Callum Baird Motorsport, Fraser Vincent for the electronics and wiring, Ross Cree, Andrew Davidson, New Callum, Big Nige and anyone else that has helped out at some point. Also thanks to all the people that sponsored us to go to Brands Hatch.