Team Aon have enjoyed a busy end to 2011 and face exciting new challenges in 2012. The team, who have previously clinched the Independent Teams’ and Drivers’ titles in the British Touring Car Championship, have been busy building the first example of the Ford Focus World Touring Car. The new car, based on the Global Ford Focus which took two victories in the 2011 BTCC, had its first shakedown just before Christmas.
Conforming to WTCC regulations with a 1.6 engine and running on WTCC spec Yokohama rubber, the first WTCC Ford Focus enjoyed its first shakedown at Ford’s technical centre at Dunton, Essex in the UK just before the festive period.
With the first shakedown now completed, the car will go through additional tests in the wind tunnel to facilitate further development, while work will also be completed on revised suspension components, ahead of an FIA technical inspection later this month. Negotiations with drivers for the 2012 season are also well underway with the team hoping to make announcements in the near future.
The Team Aon car will next hit the track at the end of January with further tests in the UK, before an extensive test programme in Spain in early February.
“It has been very exciting to see the development of this new car”, said Team Aon driver Tom Chilton. “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.”
Team Principal Mike Earle added, “The team have been working very hard to get the new WTCC car together in time for testing. 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.”