It should mean goodbye to the “Auntie” image for good when two racing Rover 3500 SD1s contest this year’s Tricentrol RAC British Saloon Car Championship. A change in the regulations to raise the Championship’s capacity into from 3-litres to 3.5-litres will allow BL to add a new dimension to the battle for overall honours traditionally contested by the 3-litre Capris.
Drivers of the two Team Triplex Esso Motor cars will be the talented Jeff AIlam, latterly one of the quickest of the Capri drivers, and Motor Technical Editor Rex Greenslade, who did a good job in a Triplex Dolomite last season. In spite of the multiple sponsorship the Rovers are works cars, but they have been prepared by David Price Racing of Twickenham and it is their workshops that will maintain and race the cars throughout the year. BL Motorsport of Abingdon, presumably too overburdened by TR7 rally activities to look after the Rovers directly, have provided many of the technical services, including some engine builds, while Don Moore of Cambridge will provide the rest.
BL are claiming around 250 b.h.p. at 6,800 r.p.m. from the Group 1 specification, all-aluminium V8 engines, in spite of the restrictions imposed by the standard twin SU H1F7 carburetters. Bilstein dampers are fitted all round, the ventilated front disc brakes are grasped by AP calipers and the standard rear drums are retained, albeit with sintered linings. There is a chance that a disc-braked rear axle may be homologated later — the axle already exists in the rallying TR7 V8s. The transmission uses the normal 5-speed Rover manual gearbox, the standard live axle, but fitted with a limited slip differential soda choice of two homologated axle ratios, 4.3:1 or 4.55:1. There is a choice of Ronel or Minilite, 7J x 15 in. alloy wheels, shod with Dunlop racing tyres appropriate to the conditions. Power assisted steering is retained.
Allam and Greenslade will have the luxury of Unipart radio/cassette players in their refined racers, though we doubt whether they will be able to hear them!
The Rovers will make their debut in the first round of the ten round Championship at Mallory Park on March 23rd. We wish them well. — C.R.