Ford hopes improvements to the transmission and hydraulic systems of its Focus RS 03 WRC will give Markko Martin a chance to revitalise his championship hopes at San Remo this weekend.

Ford hopes improvements to the transmission and hydraulic systems of its Focus RS 03 WRC will give Markko Martin a chance to revitalise his championship hopes at San Remo this weekend.


The Ford Rallye Sport recently spent four days testing the car on asphalt roads near Genoa in northern Italy. Francois Duval was behind the wheel for the first two days, before Martin took over testing duties for the weekend.


The team was satisfied with the improvements to the hydraulics systems, but encountered problems with the transmission revisions, which featured a lighter bellhousing, reported on Tuesday.


"The bellhousing helps to lessen the weight over the front axle," said Ford Rallye Sport's technical director Christian Loriaux. "The new hydraulic system allows for faster gear changes and is something we have been waiting for time to develop."


After a strong showing in July's Rally of Germany, Martin is optimistic ahead of the upcoming asphalt WRC events.


Rally Deutschland was the first tarmac rally for the 2003-spec Ford Focus WRC. Martin set 10 fastest stage times in Germany, and only gearbox problems prevented the Estonian from challenging Sebastien Loeb and Marcus Gronholm for victory.


"I always expected the new Focus to be good on asphalt but I admit I was a little surprised just how good the package was in Germany," said Martin. "Hopefully we can use that performance as a base for the more traditional asphalt events.


"San Remo (which starts on Friday) is the most difficult of the three. The roads are narrow and bumpy and the weather is inconsistent," he added. "On the south facing side of the mountains the sun can be shining and the roads dry, but over the top of the Col on the north facing side, it can be almost dark under the trees and quite slippery".

Original article from Car