Sitting resplendent outside the Autocar Awards last night was a shiny, Nitrous Blue Ford Focus RS, a car that two hours later would snaffle a brace of gongs.

And standing next to the 345bhp bruiser was its chief engineer, Tyrone Johnson, a guest who’d flown in overnight from Germany.

For blokes like Johnson, who have lived-and-breathed a project for three-and-a-half years, these moments must be sweet: public recognition of his team’s efforts and a chance to mingle with other car industry achievers.

But at the back of his mind, he was still the engineer at work: “I can tell you a detail about what went into this car that sums up how thorough we were.”

I’d never heard of Ford’s ‘pothole test', but I have now. Every Ford model has to pass this version of automotive torture, in which a prototype has to survive unscathed after 560 drive-overs at 50mph. The pothole itself is many inches deep and edged with steel reinforcement.