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Press Releases
24 Jun 09 18:07
Ford is a partner in the Ronde du Ventoux
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The renaissance of the "Giant of Provence"

The legend continues. More than a century after its first running (1902), the Mont Ventoux race today exists in its historical form, a celebration of its exceptional past.

Organised by the company Peter Auto along the same lines as the Le Mans Classic or the Tour Auto, the Ronde du Ventoux will run from June 5 to 7, 2009, after which it will be held every two years.

Mont Ventoux dominates Provence from its 1912 metre summit and offers one of the largest and most spectacular panoramas in Europe. It is an exceptional natural site, designated by UNESCO as a biosphere reserve. The fame of the "Giant de Provence" is also well known by cyclists, especially the respect shown by Tour de France champions for its extreme difficulty.

Mont Ventoux is also the decor for a hill climb race that has long been considered a major motor sport event for 2-, 3- and 4-wheeled vehicles. Between 1902 and 1973, the race followed the same layout, starting from the village of Bedoin, at an altitude of 296 metres and terminating at the summit, 1599 metres higher and 21.6 kilometres further. The most illustrious pages of the story of this famous race have involved the participation of the best car manufacturers and drivers, including the Frenchmen Jean Behra who won in 1958 and Maurice Trintignant, winner in 1949, 1960 and 1964.

The Mont Ventoux race was not run in 1974 and 1975. The 1976 race with a length reduced to 15.4 km, was followed by other cancellations in 1977, 1978 and 1979. The race was resumed in the 1980's and continued until 2007, having become a test of mountain driving specialists.

The new Focus RS attacks Mont Ventoux

Ford is a partner in this race and will present to the public its modern and high-performance Focus RS. This new Focus RS has resulted from work by the Ford RS Team, directed by Jost Capito, a top-notch driver enamoured of powerful machines.

Jost Capito is categorical in this respect: "The launch of a new Ford RS is a major event. The company is frugal with the number of new models, and when one comes out, it is expected to be exceptional".

Starting at the earliest phases of the development programme, the goal set by the team was to create a vehicle whose pure performance could rival that of more top end models and thus become one of the absolute market standards in terms of performance and price/equipment ratio.

The heart of the new Focus RS is a specially developed turbocharged version of the Duratec 5 cylinder, 2.5 litre engine equipping the Focus ST. Furnishing 305 HP at 6500 rpm and a torque of 440 Nm (between 2300 and 4500 rpm), this engine has transformed the Focus RS that is now the most powerful compact, front wheel drive saloon ever offered on the market.

Accompanied by a Cosworth Ford Escort RS borrowed from the "Heritage" collection of Ford in Great Britain, the Focus RS will be the official car of the Ronde du Ventoux and among other things will be used to determine stage reference times for the competition.

Ford sets the pace of the race

Many Ford models had already challenged Mont Ventoux in the 1960's with private drivers. At the time, the Ford Cortina Lotus and Mustangs stood out in the categories reserved for "almost" stock cars. Ford won 5 class titles in the 1966 race alone.

We also remember the 1964 victory of the spectacular Ford Cobra Shelby in the GT category. Its driver Jo Schlesser had passed four Ferraris, including two 250 GTO, climbing at an average speed of 107 km/h. An outstanding performance to be compared to the 114.8 km/h the same year, recorded by the general classification winner, Maurice Trintignant at the wheel of a BRM P57 F1.

Among other internationally known French drivers who drove Fords on Mont Ventoux, the rally driver Jean-François Piot won the Tourism category in 1969 at the wheel of an Escort Twin Cam.

The 2009 Ronde du Ventoux will be a welcome pleasure for fans of this legendary race. In 1982, the first classic car race organised over the 21.6 km of the famous event attracted an audience of 50,000 spectators.
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