Matters of Moment
Racing Improves The Breed
IN this issue we describe the new RS200, Ford’s exciting new prototype which may go into limited production to form the basis of a return to International Rallying. Whether or not the car is given the go ahead, whether or not it is successful, it crystalises a number of important points and trends.
Since Swart Turner took over as Ford’s Director of European Motorsports, the company has revitalised its involvement in the sport. Apart from the RS200, we have been treated to the announcement that Ford plans a new Fl engine in conjunction with Cosworth Engineering. FF1600 has been introduced into France and, with Ford’s active assistance, will shortly be introduced into Portugal on the back of that country’s enthusiasm for racing generated by the recent Grand Prix. The company has put its name and muscle behind the new Formula Turbo Ford. The new Escort RS Turbo is to be introduced into Group A saloon car racing and we understand that German-prepared Sierra XR4i cars will be seen in next year’s ETC. Supporting next year’s British Grand Prix will be a Ford-backed “World Championship” race for FF1600 national champions. A GpC project is under way in the States. And all this is in addition to Ford’s long-term support of the sport over the world which has been in evidence for over 20 years.
Of course, the credit does not rest entirely with Stuart Turner, he is the figurehead of a wider, deeper, corporate will. Ford knows only too well that competition success sells road cars and that is why Ford is in motorsport. The announcement that the company will continue to supply the Kent engine for FF1600 for as long the category requires it, regardless of Ford’s own road car production schedule demonstrates, however, that Ford is not a company which merely wishes to use the sport, it is also prepared to respond sensitively to the needs of the sport. Ford is not the only company involved in racing and rallying, the list of participating companies is a long and impressive one which includes Austin-Rover, Jaguar, BMW, Honda, Renault, Fiat, Alfa Romeo, Lancia, Porsche, Volvo, Toyota, Volkswagen and many more. Whatever the reasons for the involvement of these companies: technical advancement, prestige, the training of engineers, marketing and advertising, both the companies and motorsport are infinitely the richer for their involvement. Cars which are used for racing and rallying may bear little resemblance to the vehicles most of us drive day to day, but we all derive benefits not only from the lessons the companies learn by racing and rallying but by the challenges which the sport presents to companies’ engineers. On the other hand, the return of Jaguar to Le Mans this year captured the imagination of race-goers and the general public alike.
In building the RS200, Ford has not only drawn on its own resources but also the resources of the British motor racing and specialist car industry. We often forget just how remarkable this industry is but around the country there are scores of factories and workshops, often very small, in which craftsmen produce work of a quality which no other country matches. British industry is often the target of justified criticism but our motor racing industry reigns supreme. It is not only a showcase for British talent and skill but also an object-lesson for us all.
This year, every lndycar race has been won by a British chassis powered by a British engine. British cars have dominated F2, F3 and all varieties of Ford formulae worldwide. British-built chassis won 15 out of the 16 World Championship Grands Prix. Jaguar dominated the ETC where it matters — at the chequered flag. We have a lot to be proud of.
If the R5200 does go into production then we will see one of the world’s major car producers competing with the assistance of our great racing car industry.
We wish both of them every success. We wish our readers jipppp einigtnimi anb .Rein pear