it had been a good two days for Massimiliano Papis. On the first of them, he received confirmation that he would be driving for Arrows in the British Grand Prix and, in all probability, for the rest of the season. Not unexpectedly, fulfilment of a lifelong ambition kick-starts a pretty good mood.
The first corollary of item one is to go to Ford Motorsport at Boreham, where he is given a simple brief: go and drive that Escort Cosworth as hard and fast as you like.
What about the tyres? The clutch? The brakes?
Doesn’t matter. There is no abuse-limiter fitted.
Papis starts his day with a grin as broad as the bespoke 225/45 Goodyear Eagles which envelop the Persil-white 8 x 16 Enkei rims. And as he flogs the Escort as hard as he can, the smile becomes wider, the cackles louder. Massimiliano Papis is enjoying himself.
It’s hard not to. The Cosworth in question is like no other you will have seen before, though that’s not necessarily a recommendation. The Arrows F1 Escort is a limited edition. It will be made to order, and its creator – Brooklyn Motorsport – envisages that no more than 25 will actually be built.
Trick wheels and tyres apart, the external differences between the Arrows Escort and its family cousins are dramatic, if only because it is painted like an F1 Footwork, sponsors’ names and all. It even comes with the customer’s name stickered in the rear windows, in the modern saloon racing idiom.
As if drawing attention to yourself wasn’t easy enough in an Escort Cosworth…
More usefully, Brooklyn has reprogrammed the engine management system with a chip that boosts power to around 265 bhp, around 40 more than is standard. The increase in power has done nothing to compromise the smooth delivery of the turbocharged four, once it is spinning beyond 2500 rpm; below that, there is still evidence of traditional Ford four-cylinder coarseness.
Mechanically, it is otherwise standard: fast, supple, manoeuvrable and, when pushed, a cauldron of understeer. Papis attempts to make the thing do a doughnut, but ends up heading straight for a neighbouring field, until simultaneous application of handbrake and right foot. In addition to the aforementioned OTT cosmetics, the £27,499 package also incorporates a range of Sergio Tacchini sportswear and a 1/43 scale model of the car itself,
So, folly or serious engineering exercise? In truth, it’s a bit of both. The engine conversion is fine, as are the new wheel and tyre units. The suspension may be reworked before the first car is delivered; Brooklyn agrees that it is set a touch too high.
The rest you can live without.
According to Brooklyn’s initial sales forecasts, the world’s greatest concentration of terminal exhibitionists appears to be in Japan, where it is expected that the majority of cars will be sold.