Track day focus on the Focus ST
Since picking up our ST, I’ve wanted to see how the car performs around a road course. Luckily due to some amazing weather, one of my favorite local tracks, Gingerman Raceway in South Haven, MI, decided to host an open trackday… in February! This made for the perfect excuse to get a feel for the car and establish a baseline for what could be improved. The Focus ST is a very capable machine straight off the showroom floor, but lap after lap, it was apparent what was lacking.
The car itself is basically stock, apart from some supporting modifications: our Stage 1 OCC kit, Sound Symposer Delete, and a prototype rear motor mount we’re testing. Before adding power, suspension, and brake modifications I like to get a feel for the car on a track and see how it performs. From pushing the car and driving at the limit on a road course, I can gauge what systems could be improved upon and go from there.
I love Gingerman Raceway as a means for a testing ground and feeling a new car out. This track is one of my favorite road courses for FWD layouts, as there are sections that highly reward you for trail braking. With the Focus ST’s nature for kicking out the backend with the little bit of lift-off oversteer, you can carry tremendous speed into a turn, get the car to rotate clipping a late apex, and get back on the throttle to pull you out to turn exit. It’s just as fun as power oversteer in anything RWD I’ve driven around this track. However, after just a couple sessions the brakes had become quite numb. Pedal feel was nowhere near linear with it sinking almost to the floor, making it difficult for threshold braking, due to stock fluid boiling. It was obvious the braking system wasn’t up to par with the punishment I had intended to put the car through. The main downside to this was I ended up taking it pretty easy that day, being cautious under braking, holding off a bit on the straights, and waaaaay easing into the throttle during corner exit, as to prevent the “e-diff” from working the brakes too hard. I was driving at 7/10ths, except for in the corners where this little hatchback shined.
Overall, I had a blast and I know where to begin my journey down the long road of modifications. Next time out, I hope to have the braking issues solved, and from there I can push the car even harder and see what the next steps will be in enhancing our Focus ST. Keep an eye out for a follow up blog, where we’ll be diving into the brakes, and how the car’s latest braking modifications hold up on track. More to come on that rear motor mount we’re testing, as well. Stay tuned!
Let us know your thoughts of tracking your ST, what you liked or didn’t like, and what you’re doing to make it more track-capable!