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Auto blogThu, 01 Aug 2013
The Ford Focus ST and Fiesta ST have created plenty of excitement in the sport compact segment, and Ford is looking to make sure that owners are driving and enjoying their cars to the best of their abilities. As an added bonus for buying one of these sporty hatchbacks, Ford will provide a complimentary ST Octane Academy session to be held at the Miller Motorsports Park in Utah.
Attendees will be responsible for travel and lodging, but Ford will provide the driving school free of charge. Included in this two-day trip, ST owners will get class instruction and driving instruction in prepped Focus ST and Fiesta ST models on the track and autocross course. Some karting action will also be involved as will a tour of Ken Block's Hoonigan Racing headquarters located nearby. If this doesn't sound like enough fun, there is also an optional day of activities that includes some more track time in a Mustang GT and off-road instruction in an F-150 SVT Raptor.
Ford told us that those who have already purchased a Focus ST or Fiesta ST will still be able to attend the performance driving school, but the press release, which is posted below, makes it sound like it applies to original owners only. Ford has yet to announce its schedule for the ST Octane Academy or prices for additional activities or guests.
Agents of the FBI are investigating a potential case of industrial espionage involving a recently fired Ford employee. The Dearborn, MI-based manufacturer had its world headquarters searched by FBI agents on July 11, and according to The Detroit News, had warrants to seize recording devices handed over to Ford by Sharon Leach, a now-former Ford engineer.
Leach, who had spent 17 years with the Blue Oval, was fired last month, after Ford Security relieved her of eight Sansa listening devices. The FBI got involved shortly after her dismissal, searching her home on June 20 and seizing some two dozen items, including computers, jump drives and financial records, according to warrants obtained by The News.
Ford has remained quiet on the matter, with spokeswoman Susan Krusel confirming that the automaker was working with the FBI as part of a "joint investigation," while declining to provide any additional details.
Ford CEO Alan Mulally may be about to announce his long-rumored retirement from the Blue Oval, according to a pair of insiders who spoke to Bloomberg. An official statement on the succession could arrive as soon as May 1. Chief Operating Officer Mark Fields is rumored to step up as the new CEO. The company is said to be readying the announcement soon to ensure an orderly transition of power, according to the insiders.
Mulally's retirement from Ford has been a hot topic for a while. He was seriously rumored last year to be leaving the automaker to take over as the CEO of Microsoft. The board even said at one point that it was okay with them if he stepped down early. However, the CEO maintained he would stay with the business through at least the end of 2014. Fields has been rumored as a frontrunner to take over the top spot at the company since he was promoted to COO.
For the moment, Ford isn't officially confirming any of these plans. "We don't comment on speculation. We do have succession plans in place for our key leadership. We take succession planning very seriously," said Susan Krusel, Ford Global News Manager, to Autoblog.