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Little Classics News: 20 May 2014

Ford Goes All Nostalgic Leading up to World Rallycross Championship

1968 First Ford Escort Win Tony ChappellFord has gone all nostalgic with the upcoming and first ever UK round of the exciting new FIA World Rallycross Championship on 24-25 May. They take a look back at some of the heritage that today’s Olsbergs MSE Ford Fiesta ST supercar and drivers (Andrew Jordan, Andreas Bakkerud and Reinis Nitiss) will have to live up to.

A Ford driven by Ford-Autocraft employee Brian Melia was at the birth of rallycross in February 1967 – his Lotus Cortina finishing second in the Lydden Hill event created especially for ITV’s “World of Sport”. The BBC adopted rallycross later that year and the sport’s future was assured, with the first British Rallycross Championship won by Tony Chappell in a factory-prepared Ford Escort Twin Cam in 1968.

1971 Ford Capri in actionBoth the Escort and the Capri made their competition debuts in rallycross, an indication of how seriously Ford took a sport which was attracting TV audiences in excess of five million and making household names of stars including Roger Clark.

Ford Motorsport prepared a trio of the thunderous Capris to compete in rallycross from 1969 to 1971 and they enjoyed many victories, despite organisers imposing significant time penalties for their 4x4 capability.

Rallycross Rome (Capris & Escorts) - 1969

Ford drivers helped rallycross take off internationally, too: in 1973 former jockey John Taylor, a Ford Motorsport manager, won the FIA European Rallycross title in a Haynes of Maidstone Escort. Norwegian Escort driver Martin Schanche claimed a memorable quartet of European titles between 1978 and 1984, while in the UK Escort and Fiesta drivers such as John Welch, Graham Hathaway and Keith ‘Ripspeed’ Ripp gained multiple championship wins between 1976 and 1987.

Ford RS200The rallycross Ford Escort morphed from being a simple live-rear-axle ex-showroom RS into a 4x4 monster with 500-plus turbocharged horsepower. Next came the all-conquering 4x4 RS200 driven by Lydden Hill owner Pat Doran.

Two of today’s Fiesta ST World Rally Cross cars finished on the podium in the opening round of the World Championship in Portugal –powered by a 2-litre, 560 bhp turbocharged engine which powers all four wheels via a six-speed sequential gearbox and three limited-slip differentials.


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