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Bummer Debut: Focus ST-R Hits Daytona Wall

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Bummer Debut: Focus ST-R Hits Daytona Wall

DAYTONA BEACH, FL (January 27th, 2012) – Ford Racing’s No. 15 Ford Focus ST-R, driven by James Gué and Gunnar Jeannette, met with an unexpectedly rude reception Friday during its debut race in the Continental Tire Sport Car Challenge’s 2012 season-opening race, the BMW Performance 200 at Daytona.

Before ultimately posting the team’s 36th-place finish in the Grand-Am series’ Street Touring class, driver Gunnar Jeannette jumped into his Multimatic Motorsports’ Ford Focus ST-R just before the race’s halfway mark, taking control of the wheel from co-driver James Gué, who started the Focus ST-R on the inside of Row 4.

In the car barely 16 laps and settling into the car’s rhythm after a 4-lap caution period went green on Lap 35, Jeannette said he had just cleared one pack of cars and was focusing on reeling in another as he barreled along the 3.56-mile track’s backstretch.

“We’ve put so much work and effort into this car,” Jeannette said. “It really had begun to pay off, too.”

Approaching the chicane and preparing for its turn, things suddenly went awry.

“I got ahead of the pack and was braking for the backstretch chicane,” Jeannette said, “Then I got punted from the rear, and was turned right into the (backstretch outside) wall.”

“I’ve been in a lot of races and wrecked a lot of times but that was the hardest hit I’ve ever taken. Period.”

Checked after his run-in with the wall in Daytona International Speedway’s infield care center, Jeannette was released and said he felt fine, all things considered.

“It’s a testament to how Ford paid attention to occupant safety,” Gué said as he looked over the mangled remains of the once shiny new car. “It’s just such a shame to see it like this.”

Formerly a sporty, technologically advanced car built through the collaborative efforts of Ford engineers worldwide, the ST-R’s front end looked as though it had suffered from the jaws of a junkyard compactor loosed in anger.

“Seeing the ST-R now and knowing what it looked like before,” Gué said, “I at least know I’ll be protected inside the car, no matter what. This, hitting that backstretch wall, is one of those ‘immovable object’ type of things I learned when in school. And our ST-R really hit an immovable object, too.”

“To see Gunnar walk away from a car that looks like it does now, well, it’ll sure make all of us a lot more comfortable knowing the safety zone this car provides its passengers. And it’ll sure make my mom and dad happier.”

Quotes

Jamie Allison, Director of Ford Racing

“On-track incidents are things you don’t plan for, but are normal occurrences in racing. Unfortunately for the Focus ST-R, we got caught up in one today, but that does not tack away from the continued development we look forward to on the ST-R. We’ll have two Focus ST-R on track as we move forward, carrying the flag for the performance offering of Focus. Special thanks to Multimatic Motorsports, led by Larry Holt and Sean Mason as well as our drivers Gunnar and James, for a strong debut cut short by the on-track incident.”

Gunnar Jeannette

“For a first weekend, I’m pretty pleased. Obviously, it’s hard to say that after an incident that takes you out of the race and hurts the car as bad as it does. But we’ve got a lot of potential. We know the areas we need to work on. We’re going to go back, do some homework, probably spend a lot of time on this one and try to rebound with a win. Because nothing would make me feel better than to go from a race-ending wreck like this to its first victory.”

James Gue

“It was a pretty good weekend overall. Obviously, this isn’t the way we want to end it. All things considered, with a brand-new car, we’ve done a lot of testing with it. We’re making huge strides with the car. We still have a long way to go with it, but you know it’s obviously competitive right out of the box. We were seventh in qualifying, which is great. We ran in the top-five for the first hour of the race, but unfortunately we got tangled up. I’m pretty pleased with the weekend. You always want to do well and keep putting miles on the car and learn more about it.”

This press release was issued by Ford Racing at racing.ford.com on January 27th, 2012. It is reproduced here with the consent of Ford Racing.

Check out additional images of the Ford Focus ST-R at Daytona.

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Contact Info:

Sean Mason or Stephen Charsley
Multimatic Motorsports
+1 905-470-0025      
racepr@multimatic.com