Track back: 1994
Ford’s Paul Radisich lays claim to title of planet’s best touring car driver again!
What a field: 38 cars representing 11 manufacturers and a grid of drivers only second in quality to that in Formula One. The hype surrounding the FIA Touring Car World Cup soared accordingly in October 1994.
The first World Cup — essentially a world championship for touring cars — had been held at Monza the year before. Paul Radisich, a respected single-seater refugee, had beaten the tin-top cream in an Andy Rouse Ford Mondeo. This time most expected the World Cup, held at Donington Park, to be a different story.
The BTCC had been all about Alfa Romeo and Gabriele Tarquini in 1994. Radisich’s wingless Mondeo did take the title battle to the penultimate round, but only picked up a single win, in the season finale — at Donington.
Radisich topped the track’s pre-World Cup test, too. But it was BMW’s stable of stars that were favourite. A single 100Km race, compared to the BTCC’s double-sprint race format, appeared to favour Beemer’s rear-wheel-drive cars, which worked their tyres less hard than their front-wheel-drive rivals. But 60-time BTCC race winner Rouse, newly retired from driving, was upbeat.
“Michelin brought different tyres for the World Cup to those they supplied in the BTCC, which was essentially control rubber,” he says. “But for this event they brought their best constructions.
“Cosworth had developed our V6 to the best it ever was, and that, combined with our car working really well on these tyres, made it almost unbeatable.”
The other factor was Radisich.
“His technique of left-foot braking and kerb-hopping set a whole new style of driving,” says Rouse. “He was hard on the car, but we’d built the Mondeo to take it. And from the chicane to the pit straight at Donington he was 1sec a lap quicker than anyone, me included.”
Radisich beat Steve Soper’s BMW to pole, but John Cleland jumped into the lead at the start. Had the race continued, the Vauxhall Cavalier might have won, but red flags after startline argy-bargy gave Radisich another chance. He took it and led from lights to flag. Despite gearbox problems late in the race, he held on to beat Soper.
Niki Lauda clinches the closest Formula One world championship in history at Estoril. The Austrian finishes second to McLaren team-mate Alain Prost in Portugal (above), but it is enough for him to secure the title by half a point.
Prost drives away for a comfortable victory, but his title hopes rest on the performance of Lauda, who has qualified 11th and can only take the title with second place. Niki picks off his rivals to score the six points he needs. Prost’s seventh win of the season compared to Lauda’s five.
The pair arrived in Portugal just four-and-a-half points apart after Prost’s domination of the European Grand Prix at the new Nürburgring: Lauda was only fourth.
Carlos Reutemann and Carlos Pace register a Brabham double-top in the US Grand Prix at the ‘Glen; Emerson Fittipaldi drives conservatively to finish in fourth place — but that’s enough to win him the world championship.
Reutemann leads all the way from pole position, while Pace edges out James Hunt’s Hesketh for second with four laps to go.
The opportunity of a title shoot-out goes up in smoke when Clay Regazzoni lines up his Ferrari down in ninth and struggles to 11th, and title outsider Jody Scheckter retires with fuel pick-up woes.
Back in GB, hopes of a race on the streets of Birmingham are raised when councillors vote in favour of it.
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