From General Article [ 06/05/2004 ].
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Building sandcastles wasn't exactly on the minds of Ford BP Rallye Sport's technicians when they went testing in the mountains near Malaga in southern Spain last week. But when the weather turned against the team for the five-day test in preparation for the hot, dry and dusty rallies in Cyprus, Greece and Turkey, technical director Christian Loriaux instructed his team to go in search of sand to make the conditions more authentic. Ford BP's enterprising technicians quickly located 10 tonnes of it for the bargain price of only 120 Euros. It was then the job of technicians Ross Sutherland, Nick Tyrrell and Nick 'Chad' Carter to spread the sand over a 25 metre corner section of the test stage, while François Duval's engineer Chris Gray 'supervised' the 30 minute session!
The stage was dry and fairly dusty already but Christian wanted to test the Focus in the type of extreme conditions we might face on the next three events. It was just like being on the beach in the Costa del Sol - apart from the fact there were no ice creams and we were working flat out!" said Gray.
The Ford BP team spent five days testing the Ford Focus RS WRC 04 on rough gravel roads. Markko Märtin and Duval drove a total of 840kms in preparation for the next three rounds of the FIA World Rally Championship, concentrating on set-up work, endurance driving and tyre testing with Michelin.
The weather conditions were changeable. Gray said: "In an ideal world, 15-25°C wasn't warm enough and in that part of the world at this time of year, we were expecting warmer conditions. Despite this, the team had a successful five days, with only the third day giving us wet roads and temperatures as low as 5°C."