DEARBORN - Above the sound of screeching tires and racing engines, the school bell is being rung for acolytes of Ford’s Fiesta ST and Focus ST high-performance small cars.
At the heart of this complimentary program provided by Ford and Ford Racing instructors at Miller Motorsports Park in Tooele, Utah, initial owners of 2013 and 2014 Focus ST and the 2014 Fiesta ST are being offered the chance to learn firsthand the capabilities of their cars – and themselves. The schedule will be announced later this summer.
“We gave the all-new Fiesta ST the highest possible fun-to-drive factor,” said Raj Nair, Ford group vice president, global product development. “It’s fast, it handles brilliantly, but it won’t beat you up in daily driving. Add to that its affordability, and we think enthusiasts have reason to rejoice. It’s really that good.”
Ford’s ST Octane Academy provides Focus ST and Fiesta ST owners with a full immersion into the Ford ST experience, with driving instruction and extensive course time with professional instructors. The intent is to demonstrate the performance capabilities of the owners’ cars and to improve their driving skills – all while having fun.
The program is inspired by Octane Academy, the competition TV series founded by Ford and featuring motorsports superstars Ken Block, Brian Deegan, Tanner Foust and Vaughn Gittin Jr. On the show, amateur drivers compete for a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to jump-start their racing careers. The four professional drivers put the competitors through a variety of driving and action sports challenges to determine the winner of Octane Academy.
Miller Motorsports Park will provide Focus ST and Fiesta ST cars – modified with full safety equipment – for participants’ use in all exercises. All participants will need to do is arrange travel to Salt Lake City to take advantage of the experience. An optional day of instruction will include Ford Mustang GT on the track and off-road driving in a Ford F-150 SVT Raptor.
Following afternoon arrival in Salt Lake City, drivers will visit the headquarters of Hoonigan Racing – Ken Block’s race shop in nearby Park City – for a tour of the facilities, a deep dive into ongoing projects, and dinner and a reception.
The next day at Miller Motorsports Park, owners will start with a dynamic classroom session with school instructors, and then spend the rest of the morning learning car control, cornering, braking and vehicle dynamic techniques. Lunch will be provided.
The afternoon session features more on-track driving including lead and follow exercises, instructor ride-alongs and hot laps with professional drivers. It also includes high-spirited precision driving exercises and challenges featuring a custom circuit. The day will end with participating owners receiving a special graduation pack from the team followed by the ST karting challenge.
While owners will be responsible for their travel and hotel costs, Ford will cover costs of the driving school in its entirety. The optional-day Mustang GT and Raptor events would be paid for by the participants. Options for owners to bring guests will also be available. All interested in learning more about this program should visit www.stoctaneacademy.com for complete details.
Ford ST global DNA
All Ford Motor Company performance vehicles are developed using Ford’s global performance DNA. This blueprint outlines the characteristics of Ford’s ST, RS, SVT and GT models, ensuring Ford customers around the world benefit from a common strategy for performance vehicle tuning and the same optimized driving dynamics – regardless of market.
Ford recently won two awards for vehicle dynamics at the 2013 Vehicle Dynamics International Awards – Dynamics Team of the Year and Dynamicist of the Year. The Ford vehicle dynamics department won for development of Ford vehicles including the new Ford B-MAX, all-new Ford Kuga, Ford Focus ST and all-new Ford Fiesta ST. Ford Team RS vehicle dynamics specialist David Put – star of the Ford Fiesta ST versus legendary Lommel Track 7 video – won for his work on Focus ST and Fiesta ST.
Ford is committed to delivering vehicles with high levels of ride quality that are also fun and rewarding to drive as part of its global DNA. Ford is the first manufacturer to win each award twice since the awards were launched in 2008.
“At Ford, we place driving dynamics at the heart of our vehicle development programs,” said Nair. “Awards like these are proof that these efforts have been worthwhile, and Ford really does go further to deliver the very best performance feel for our customers. We are very proud of our products and the team for all they have delivered.”
The new Ford Fiesta ST will be available in North America later this summer. Interested buyers can place an order at their local dealer or through Build Your Fiesta ST online. The hot hatch will feature a new high-output variant of the award-winning 1.6-liter EcoBoost® four-cylinder engine, delivering an estimated 197 horsepower and 202 lb.-ft. of torque – making Fiesta ST a true standout among its competition.