WATCH | This is the fastest Ford Focus ST in South Africa

Image: P-Dubs
Image: P-Dubs

Ford fans don't come much bigger than Patrick, or rather P-Dubs, as he is known by many in the racing community down in Cape Town.

Earlier in April, Wheels24 featured his rare collection of Ford Focus RS models and it garnered plenty of attention. So much that it led to many people asking about his blooming-fast ST. This car holds the accolade for the fastest-recorded ST in South Africa over one kilometre, as well as the fastest Western Cape-based front-wheel-drive car over the 800m Saldanha dragstrip.

Where it all started

Patrick explains he first crossed paths with this particular ST when a friend of his insurance company wrote the car off because it sustained water damage to the engine. But it was a car forum post claiming that Joburg had the fastest ST's in the land that set all the plans into motion to turn it into the monster it is now.

Do you have or know of a car that could go up against P-Dubs' ST? Email us.

In the years prior, the ST's from up north had moved the posts significantly by going bigger and better, building forged engines, adding nitrous, and fitting bigger turbochargers. The platform had now shifted to the detriment of Cape Town - there was just no way to compete with the Northerners. Or was there?

One thing they didn't have was the expertise of Ford and local racing legend, Zain Ryland, the man behind the monster Ford Sierra XR8 twin turbo. After following Zain for some time, it was then that Patrick enlisted the help of the master himself and they pieced together a mechanical blueprint for the ST. Together with Shaun Schaper from C21 engineering who ensured the brain of the car maintains its protection, and can take advantage of the improved reliability and a range of power adders.

SEE | This mega-Ford fan owns all three generations of potent Focus RS cars - Here's which one is his fave

In less than a year, the trio managed to source all the parts needed to start the build and Patrick notes he was part of every stage of the project (weekends when available) - even if it was just to catch a glimpse of Zain at work. Only the best parts were sourced, and the list was extensive including Darton sleeves imported from the USA, a GTX35R turbo, forged Pistons and rods, Enem cams, and a specially-designed SH3 fuel management system which only six other ST's (all engines built by Zain Ryland) make use of.

patrick hartnic

                                                   Image: P-dubs

READ | So long, Focus. Here's why you can no longer buy this Ford in SA

The SH3 fuel management system is a locally-developed, custom-made electronic fuel controller roughly the same size as a cigarette box and its purpose is to send the exact amount of fuel needed at any given point to ensure optimum fuel delivery. The return-less electronic fuel system controls fuel pressure by regulating the fuel pumps electronically to maintain a constant fuel pressure throughout the rev range.

patrick hartnic

                                                                    Image: P-dubs

As a practical example, most drag cars run the fuel through the hot engine bay and when the fuel returns to the tank, it heats up and this sacrifices power during a run. The SH3, on the other hand, delivers consistent quality of fuel at the same temperature, therefore optimising power throughout the run - no need for fuel coolers.

All of this runs from the car's original sensors without the need to add auxiliary sensors which is normally the case on other applications. The car also runs on clean ethanol which results in zero emissions which is possible through the intricate SH3 system with precision programming.

The Cape Red Beast

Once the engine was successfully bolted together, Zain estimated the power to be around the 450kW+ mark. A dyno run done on low boost shows a reading of 400kW. The car attracted a lot of attention from local ST owners, and when it achieved a reading of 490kW and almost 1000Nm at the wheels at Joburg altitude with the GTX3076 turbo (GTX35R fitted later), no one could believe it.

As it stands, the car pushes 525kW at the coast (before the new setup below) while still being reliable enough for daily use if needed - something unheard of in race cars.

Patrick headed up to Johannesburg for a RaceSA topend event where they measured 400m, 800m, and 1km distances all in one run. The car was then pitted against Joburg's finest ST that boasted forced induction and nitrous oxide. Having never run the car on a 1km top-end, Patrick admits he was nervous as he didn't know if the engine would hold together at such high speeds. 

Patrick fondly reminisces each gear on the run and the build-up to setting a new record: "Green lights and the butterflies in my stomach disappear, adrenaline takes over. First gear was short-lived, bang into second, and smoke pouring from the semi-slick tyres, third gear and more of the same. Fourth gear, and still smoking the tyres as a result of the 1000Nm through the front wheels but I kept my foot in it, and the car found traction.

"I looked down at the revs and I was running 7300rpm, which was the sweet spot to shift to fifth gear. As I look up, I've already passed the 400m mark. I pass the 800m mark, and the clock is almost run off. Into sixth gear, and I was holding on tightly which was when I heard something shatter underneath the car. I looked in my mirror and saw plastic bits flying everywhere; it was the under-tray covers but I still kept my foot in it as I knew it was not detrimental, and there was plenty of stopping distance after the finish line. It was then that I crossed the line with a new record.

patrick hartnic

                                                                          Image: P-dubs

The decision was then made not to go out and run again as the car didn't have a spare cover, and under-carriage airflow is important for stability at high speed.

Patrick decided to leave the car with his best friend, Prashant Poorai, and told him to have fun with the car over the next few months, as well as attending some events as the car's reliability wasn't an issue.

Because of an-already paid for overseas holiday, Patrick could not attend the 'King of ST' event and Patrick drilled it into Prash that he wanted a new record when he gets back home. Boy, was he in for a surprise.

The car took on everything Joburg had to offer and set a jaw-dropping speed of 279km/h over 1km. The day ended with a direct quarter-mile drag shootout against Joburg's strongest ST (video below), with the Cape Town ST piloted by Prash pulling into the distance once fourth gear was engaged. The plan was to try and better the record this year but due to the Covid-19 outbreak, plans had to be put on hold.

After returning from Europe, Patrick went up to Joburg to do one more event before driving the car to Cape Town. On the day, the car was a bit down on power due to the high temperatures, and it was then that he decided to call it a day and head back home. In total, his car did three 1km top-end events, and a couple of 400m events with no severe breakages or mishaps - a testimony of the top-class workmanship carried out by Zain Ryland, and careful mapping of the ECU by C21.

Still much more to come

Patrick says: "I did a conversion from the bottom mount to side mount for the turbo which also included changing from a log manifold to a custom branch manifold - the setup used to set the Western Cape-based front-wheel-drive record at Saldanha 800m drags in November 2019. This direction in the setup is in preparation of what Zain has in mind for future enhancements.

There aren't many cars out there that can boast an impressive record like Patrick's. His ST is something special and together with Zain Ryland's similar-spec ST, the duo have the potential to destroy anything in its class.

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