Markko Martin proved the potential of the Focus RS WRC 03 at the Rally of Argentina, but how will the new Ford fare on asphalt road courses? Martin’s team-mate, Francois Duval, gives his impressions.

Markko Martin proved the potential of the Focus RS WRC 03 at the Rally of Argentina, but how will the new Ford fare on asphalt road courses? Martin’s team-mate, Francois Duval, gives his impressions.

Last week, Duval and Martin each drove for two days on roads around Gap in South-East France and completed over 800 km. The pair also tested new transmission parts that are set to be introduced for the Rally of Germany.

"The test went well,” said Duval. “I drove for two days and covered more than 400 km. The new Focus felt really good and handled well. It's so easy to drive on asphalt, it feels just like a kart, very precise.”

The young Belgian said the car’s was a big improvement on its predecessor. “There's a huge difference between this car and the 2002 Focus WRC,” he said, “and I think we will go into the asphalt events later in the season full of confidence for a good result.”

Duval also evaluated Michelin’s asphalt course specification tyres for the Ford Rallye team.

“This was my first proper drive with Michelin rubber on clean asphalt,” he said. “Obviously we competed in Monte Carlo with Michelin tyres, but the conditions were snowy and icy and there wasn't really any clean asphalt. Here they were consistent and the grip was good."