This month Geoff Gordon had hoped to chat about his rebuilt Group 2 car firing up for the first time. It will have done so by the time you read this…
The big moment is more or less upon us. The ’Sud is starting to look ever more like a racing car and the engine is due to run for the first time just as Motor Sport’s printer presses the ‘start’ button to make this issue a reality. The goal now is to have the whole project completed by Christmas and to be ready to test early in the new year – that would be a lovely present.
Things have moved on since my last report, though the project was put on hold for a week for the very best of reasons. Pete Johnston, one of the partners at preparation specialist Raceworks Motorsport, decided to give his dad Charles a wonderful 60th birthday present by entering them both for the Roger Albert Clark Rally in historic racer Grant Tromans’ Datsun 240Z. I think most of the team went along to provide moral support, which was a lovely touch – I hadn’t factored that into the build schedule!
As the Alfa has progressed, it has been interesting building up a picture of how motor racing was when the car was new. Given the growth in historic racing, the FIA takes a very keen interest in making sure that cars in all categories comply with their HTP (historic technical passport), which specifies what can or can’t be done.
When the ’Sud Sprint was launched, in the second half of the 1970s, Alfa Romeo was supplying Formula 1 engines to Brabham and up until 1977 still had a World Sports Car Championship programme with the T33. Evidence suggests the company had more important things to worry about than touring cars, so it left most of the customer stuff to tuning partner Autodelta and there really isn’t a huge amount of paperwork.
The likes of Ford and BMW felt competition should be used to sell road cars and went to great lengths to make sure the right parts were homologated. There would be pages and pages of information about which type of radio or door handle trim could be fitted – and then suddenly, tucked away in the middle, you’d find a line about a certain bore and stroke being permitted. These things tended be hidden away among the mundane details, presumably because they were hoping the opposition might not notice.
As far as I can tell, Ford and BMW homologated just about everything that could possibly be included. The ’Sud? It does have its own HTP, but it is rather brief and means we’ve known from the start that we’d be quite limited in what we can legitimately do. For instance, it would probably be better – for cooling purposes – if we could run outboard brakes. They must have been a twinkle in somebody’s eye at that time, because they appeared on the following Alfa 33, but nobody ever thought to homologate them for the ’Sud…
Next month: Alfa’s boxer music. Plus, hopefully, some clues about a test schedule
Thanks to: Geoff Gordon; Raceworks Motorsport. www.raceworksmotorsport.com