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27 September 2011

Formula Ford's all-new 2012 racer gets a radical EcoBoost

Words by Christopher Kho | Photos courtesy of the Ford Motor Company
In its entire 44-year history, Formula Ford finally received its most radical revolution yet as the 2012-spec machine rolls out into daylight for the very first time at the 2011 Frankfurt Motor Show. You see, the single-seaters used in competition today have been largely unchanged in the last 20 odd years and are in dire need of an upgrade - both in shape and safety. Thus, to bring the latest Formula Ford racer up to par with Formula 1 and Formula 3, its bodywork is injected with the blue oval brand's kinetic design philosophy and fitted on an updated chassis that meets stringent FIA safety standards. Looks like the new generation of Formula Ford's are ready to race into the future.
Sporting a completely redesigned bodywork, Ford's 2012 open-wheel racer seems more fitting in a USAF's airfield than on the track. But the butch front nosecone, sidepods, and roll-hoop aren't just put in for show. While it still sits on a tubular frame, new front, rear, and side structures are integrated in the design to better protect the driver in case of a collision. It also benefits from Formula 1-derived technologies such as FIA-spec head restraint system, wheel tethers, and a removable seat. 
Underneath its skin, the aging Duratec technology has been swapped out with a 165 horsepower 1600cc turbocharged Ford EcoBoost engine derived from the Ford Focus. And for the first time, shifting duties are now taken over by a 6-speed sequential gearbox. Suspension components, however, appear to be unchanged, and the new car will continue to run on homologated Dunlop slick and wet race tires used in the past few Championships. 
The 2012-spec racer's rejuvenated styling and improved safety standards should be able to attract more race teams and drivers to race in the series. I can certainly say that the new era of Formula Ford's has definitely arrived.