Talk curve -- Historic motorsport insight -- Patrick's Tiger feat

Browse pages
Current page

1

Current page

2

Current page

3

Current page

4

Current page

5

Current page

6

Current page

7

Current page

8

Current page

9

Current page

10

Current page

11

Current page

12

Current page

13

Current page

14

Current page

15

Current page

16

Current page

17

Current page

18

Current page

19

Current page

20

Current page

21

Current page

22

Current page

23

Current page

24

Current page

25

Current page

26

Current page

27

Current page

28

Current page

29

Current page

30

Current page

31

Current page

32

Current page

33

Current page

34

Current page

35

Current page

36

Current page

37

Current page

38

Current page

39

Current page

40

Current page

41

Current page

42

Current page

43

Current page

44

Current page

45

Current page

46

Current page

47

Current page

48

Current page

49

Current page

50

Current page

51

Current page

52

Current page

53

Current page

54

Current page

55

Current page

56

Current page

57

Current page

58

Current page

59

Current page

60

Current page

61

Current page

62

Current page

63

Current page

64

Current page

65

Current page

66

Current page

67

Current page

68

Current page

69

Current page

70

Current page

71

Current page

72

Current page

73

Current page

74

Current page

75

Current page

76

Current page

77

Current page

78

Current page

79

Current page

80

Current page

81

Current page

82

Current page

83

Current page

84

Current page

85

Current page

86

Current page

87

Current page

88

Current page

89

Current page

90

Current page

91

Current page

92

Current page

93

Current page

94

Current page

95

Current page

96

Current page

97

Current page

98

Current page

99

Current page

100

Current page

101

Current page

102

Current page

103

Current page

104

Current page

105

Current page

106

Current page

107

Current page

108

Current page

109

Current page

110

Current page

111

Current page

112

Current page

113

Current page

114

Current page

115

Current page

116

Current page

117

Current page

118

Current page

119

Current page

120

Current page

121

Current page

122

Current page

123

Current page

124

Current page

125

Current page

126

Current page

127

Current page

128

Current page

129

Current page

130

Current page

131

Current page

132

Current page

133

Current page

134

Current page

135

Current page

136

Current page

137

Current page

138

Current page

139

Current page

140

Current page

141

Current page

142

Current page

143

Current page

144

Current page

145

Current page

146

Current page

147

Current page

148

Current page

149

Current page

150

Current page

151

Current page

152

Current page

153

Current page

154

Current page

155

Current page

156

Current page

157

Current page

158

Current page

159

Current page

160

Current page

161

Current page

162

Current page

163

Current page

164

Patrick Watts is the new star of historic rallying reports Paul Lawrence

Patrick Watts’s press-on approach made him a star of one-make racing in the 1980s and a cult hero in the British Touring Car Championship in the ’90s. Now, after a break from the sport, he’s taken to historic rallying like a duck to water.

“I’m loving it,” says Watts, who now has five events in the Armajaro MSA British Historic Rally Championship under his belt. The most recent of them, the season opener for 2005, netted a first victory for his thundering Sunbeam Tiger on the Robin Hood Forest Stages in Nottinghamshire. The fact that he inflicted a defeat on the seemingly invincible Porsche 911 of reigning champion Dessie Nutt made the result all the more significant.

“It’s gone full circle really,” says Watts. “I got into racing because I enjoyed fiddling around with mechanical things. I’d built up my Tiger in the early ’90s as a road car and I just wanted to have some fun.”

The desire to join the BHRC ranks followed an article he read in which Ray Bellm extolled the enjoyment to be had on the stages.

“Rallying has taken me back to what I was doing in the late 1970s,” says Watts, who does much of the preparation on the Tiger, just as he did on his Mini Seven racer as a young hopeful.

“When I was a kid I used to watch Mini racing at Brands. My heroes were Chris Tyrrell and Steve Hall,” he recalls. “Then I was competing against them. I started in Mini Sevens; a very competitive series. If you won it you got a 1275GT.”

He duly progressed through the Metro Challenge and then got his big break with Austin-Rover: “They asked me if I wanted to be a works driver in the BTCC. I think I would have been champion in 1984 if Austin-Rover hadn’t pulled out over eligibility wrangles on the TWR Rovers. The Roger Dowson Metro side got involved and we were withdrawn from the championship.”

So Watts went back to one-make racing, where good prize funds and a road car for the champion allowed him to make some money out of racing: “The one-make stuff was great because everybody had equal machinery — you weren’t competing against open cheque books.”

After racing in Group N for Peugeot, he finally returned to the BTCC, but it was initially with Mazda: “Des O’Dell at Peugeot said to me, ‘Patrick, I’ve got some good news and some bad news. The bad news is that you’re not driving for us in the BTCC. The good news is that we’ve got Robb Gravett!'”

After five seasons with Peugeot, the BTCC career ended in ’98. Watts had a brief stint in Australian Super Touring before concentrating on running his business. Finally, 12 months ago the Tiger was ready for rallying and he arrived at the 2004 Robin Hood as a complete novice: “I started with Nick Leston as my co-driver, who knew his way down to the local pub. And we got lost on the way to the first stage. But now I’ve got Elgan Davies co-driving.”

Two months later Watts was setting fastest stage times over the daunting tarmac roads of the Epynt ranges in mid-Wales. “Everybody reckons the Tiger has got a lot of power, but it’s only about 245bhp,” says Watts, “and the discs are about the size of a kart’s. When we went to Epynt, Elgan would call a 90 left about 80 yards before the junction. I said, ‘Call it 80 yards plus a quarter of a mile so that I can start planning this slowing-down business!”

But the rallying bug had bitten. Watts is back for more in 2005 and even has another, lighter Tiger under construction: “The thing about rallying, compared to racing, is that two or three extra brake horsepower isn’t going to win you a rally. It’s very enjoyable and no one is trying to get your drive!”