The new FRD Motorsports developed Ford Focus TCR will take part in its first event in the TCR International Series this weekend, which takes place on the Marina Bay Street Circuit in Singapore.
The team have been working to develop the car, having originally taken on one of the ill-fated Onyx Engineering cars in 2015.
Since then the car has been completely redeveloped by the team, and it took part in a shakedown run in the last round of the TCR Asia Series in Shanghai, where Kenneth Ma failed to take the start in either of the races.
In Singapore the car will be driven by Chinese driver, Martin Cao Hongwei. The 23-year-old has strong experience already, having won the 2014 British Formula 3 International Series against a small field of competitors.
This year he has been racing for FRD in the China Touring Car Championship (CTCC), racing a Ford Focus in the 2.0T class, where he claimed his maiden victory in Shanghai and currently sits second overall in the drivers’ championship standings.
Kenneth Ma, President of FRD Motorsports, admits that he is ‘cautiously optimistic’ about the début of the car in the highly competitive F1-supporting race.
“We are very excited, but at the same time cautiously optimistic about our début performance,” said Ma. “We felt that the demanding nature of the Singapore street circuit would offer us the best chance to gauge our new car against the competition.
“At the very least, we hope to come out of the event with more knowledge on how we can refine the car before delivering the first cars to our customers over the winter.
“Our staff have worked tirelessly on this project in the past seven months and I would like to see their hard work rewarded with a respectable result.”
Brian Ma, FRD Motorsports’ Vice President of Technical Operations, added that in the beginning, the team had not planned to completely overhaul the 2015 car.
“We started with the 2015 car,” he added. “The original intention was to do an update and improve a few things that prevented it from being competitive.
“However, as we delved into the development process further, we realized we could provide a better car to our future customers by starting anew in many areas. I would say the 2016/17 Focus is more a redevelopment than an evolution of the 2015 car.
“Under the skin, thanks to the support from our technical partners, the car features a new 2.0L engine package, a new Xtrac six-speed paddle shift transmission, all new electronics and damper and brake systems, just to name a few.
“On the outside, the aero package we developed for this car has already proven successful on FRD’s flagship Touring Car programme in the CTCC.”