Ford's Drift Stick gets Focus RS (even more) sideways
Announced at SEMA 2017, the Ford Performance Drift Stick is an electronic handbrake for the Focus RS that is designed to do one thing – induce drift. The automaker claims that the unit is "intended for track use only," but with no sales restrictions, such as to those holding a motorsport or Gymkhana license, it seems destined to appeal to all manner of Ken Block wannabes.
The Focus RS already offers a Drift Mode, which Ford actually promotes as a safety-enhancing application of the electronic stability control (ESC) system that helps the driver control the vehicle. This mode allows the all-wheel drive system to send up to 70 percent of the abundant torque to the rear wheels, and up to 100 percent of that to either rear wheel to achieve torque vectoring that reduces understeer and enables power oversteer. By making use of the ESC, Drift Mode compares the car's yaw rate to the driver's steering inputs and prevents the yaw rate from exceeding the driver's ability.
The Drift Stick takes things a little bit further. The Stick part is an aluminum leverlocated between the driver's seat and the manual gearshift and itoperates what is essentially an electronic handbrake to disengage theclutches in the rear drive and use the ABS to activate the hydraulicbrakes on the rear wheels. That enables clutch-free drift turns whilereducing the risk of damage to the rear drivetrain. It was developedfor the Focus RS by the same team responsible for Drift Mode and its installation doesn't affect the car's factory warranty.
"The passionateengineers at Ford Performance are also enthusiasts," says DavePericak, global director of Ford Performance. "Everyone here isencouraged to think outside the box, so project 'Wicked Stick'was born. Our engineers will leverage the learnings from itsdevelopment for many future products for Ford Performance and,ultimately, take back even more of an innovative spirit when theyrejoin our mainstream engineering teams."
Enthusiasticendorsement of the Drift Stick was given by professional rally and Gymkhana driver, Ken Block, whose stunt videos have a worldwide, viralfollowing. Block is a prolific user of conventional, hydraulichandbrakes in rally cars, but the modifications required to adapt anoriginal-equipment hydraulic handbrake system to function like theDrift Stick would be substantial and inappropriate for normal roaduse. In comparison, the electronic technology of the Drift Stick iseasily installed and removed (remember, this if for track use only),operates instantaneously and requires only 5 to 6 lb (2.3 to 2.7 kg) of pressure to operate.
"I think it'sreally cool that Ford Performance is offering customers a way tocreate large-angle drifts in the Focus RS," says Block. "Obviouslyit's something that I'm really passionate about having been apart of the development of the production vehicle, so it's excitingto see it come to life. It definitely makes the car even more fun todrive."
A useful by-productrealized during the development of the Drift Stick was its potentialapplication as an enhancement to Ford's professional calibrationtool. Simply plugging a USB cable into the Drift Stick enables theextraction of select diagnostic data and the uploading ofpowertrain calibrations.
The Drift Stick will be available in the US and Canada from December 1 for US$999.