The chance to drive a new Focus ST around the new circuit is too good to pass up, a sprinkling of Cumbrian rain on the immaculately laid tarmac providing exactly the kind of test you’d want. Depending on the configuration there’s up to a mile and half of track, plus a low-friction steering circle. It’s perfect for demonstrating the ST’s fancy front differential too, the Focus able to deploy its 280hp effectively even on a greasy surface like this. A single lap in a Ford GT on dry-weather Michelin tyres requires rather more concentration but demonstrates room for even a Le Mans-inspired supercar to stretch its legs.
“First and foremost I intended the track for our own shakedowns, and particularly for race testing,” says Wilson. “But the feedback from manufacturers has been great. We’ve got the Ford press event here now and Cummins testing with a commercial vehicle – things I never thought of but seem to be attracting a lot of attention. We’ve had interest from all sorts of manufacturers and race teams and, with the engineering facilities we have on site, we can work as a one-stop shop.”
A tour of the existing facility proves his point, I-Pace and Bentley circuit racers shoulder to shoulder with rally Fiestas of all types. The WRC cars grab the attention but it’s the cost-controlled R5 Fiestas run by customer teams in WRC2 that really put bread on the table, M-Sport having delivered over 250 of the previous version and supporting them with upgrades, parts and service. There’s now an all-new generation of R5 Fiesta, M-Sport capable of supporting drivers and teams from first steps in the sport through the very top tier. It’s a far cry from the family garage from where Wilson first started operating. But the spirit is the same.