Historic Motorsport Round-up: Ford's cancelled Group B challenger to reappear

One of only five remaining of the cancelled RS1700GT, forerunner to the RS200, will run at Race Retro following a five year rebuild

Historic Motorsport Round-up: Ford's cancelled Group B challenger to reappear

RS1700T to return at Race Retro

One of the five surviving Ford Escort RS1700Ts, Ford’s cancelled Group B rally project, will run on the live action rally stage at Race Retro (February 24/25).

The rear-wheel drive project from the early 1980s was abandoned before the cars ever ran in public in the UK, but BGMsport has spent the last five years restoring one for owner Steve Rimmer.

'There are probably only five left of the 18 that were built,' said Ian Gwynne from BGMsport. 'Some went to South Africa when Ford abandoned the project. We don’t know of any being actively used and they have rarely, if ever, been seen in public action in the UK.'

One of the remaining five is owned by Malcolm Wilson, team boss of reigning World Rally champion M-Sport.

The rear-wheel drive early Group B project was developed from the Mk3 Escort by the Ford Motor Company at Boreham and double World Rally champion Ari Vatanen drove one as a course car on the Portuguese Rally.

However, the RS1700T was dropped when the Audi Quattro arrived and re-wrote rallying’s parameters. Ford turned to the RS200, using some of the technology used on the RS1700T, including the 1700cc turbocharged Cosworth BDT engine.

'This car has been undergoing a long-term restoration here in the BGMsport workshop and it is absolutely fabulous that we are able to get this car out onto the rally stage and demonstrate it,' said Gwynne. 'We’ve made a big push to get it ready for Race Retro. It has been a five-year project, on and off, to fully restore it.'

Obituary: Eric Jackson

Eric Jackson, rally driver, adventurer, businessman and 1964 British Rally Champion, has died at the age of 94.

Jackson fought in the Second World War and then returned to live in Barnsley where he developed a small garage business into what was, at the time, the largest privately-owned Ford dealership in Europe.

He contested his first rally in 1954, at the age of 30, and competed for 20 years before retiring in 1974. A serious accident on the 1973 Chieftain Rally left him with considerable injuries.

During two decades at the top of national rallying he also contested some of the toughest marathons, including the London-Sydney. The 1974 World Cup Rally was his final event.

Jackson also undertook some daunting marathon driving challenges to prove the strength of the Fords he was selling. He famously drove a Ford Corsair around the world in just 43 days.

McRaes join Biasion at Race Retro

Jimmy and Alister McRae will join Miki Biasion in the 100-strong field of cars for the Live Action rally stage at Race Retro.

The biggest entry of period rally cars to date will perform on the short demonstration stage within the grounds of Stoneleigh Park near Coventry.

Biasion will handle a Lancia Delta Integrale with while Jimmy McRae will be re-united with a Vauxhall Chevette HSR and his son Alister will drive a Subaru Legacy.

Other star performers will include Rob Dennis (Subaru Impreza), Ben Mellors (Proton Iriz R5), Warren Philliskirk (Metro 6R4), Tony Worswick (Ferrari 308GTB) and Mick Strafford in the crowd-pleasing Vauxhall Firenza Can-Am.

Famous rally Healey to go racing

Father and son Paul and Richard Woolmer will team up to race a famous Austin Healey 3000 in the Moss Trophy race at the Goodwood Members’ Meeting.

The Woolmers will share the ex-Morley brothers Austin Healey 3000 ‘XJB 876’ works rally car on a grid featuring Ferrari 250 GT SWBs and other closed-cockpit GT cars of a style that raced in the RAC Tourist Trophy from 1960 to 1962.

The 1961 Alpine Rally winner has been owned by Michael Darcey for 40 years.

'It is still a rally car, complete with spotlights,' said Woolmer senior. 'Richard raced it at the 2017 Revival but we’re sharing it for the first time.'

Richard, who recently turned 22, starred at last year’s Members’ Meeting in his Sebring Sprite.

The Healey is tended by the family’s Bedford-based business, Woolmer Classic Engineering.

Alexis trials car goes back to its roots

The first trials car built by race car manufacturer Alexis has returned to the sport recently in the hands of Formula Junior racer Stuart Roach.

The 1962 Mk1 trials car, chassis HF101, was used extensively in period and is now back in action after a major restoration.

'Quite a few were built and others are still about, but this is the only one currently running,' said Roach.

The now immaculate car had not run for several decades before Roach acquired it from Duncan Rabagliati about 10 years ago. Rabagliati, another Alexis enthusiast, rescued it from a farm where it had been living outside.

Kestenbaum lines up Crossle for Historic FF1600

Formula Ford veteran Stuart Kestenbaum will campaign a Crossle 16F in Historic FF1600 and had planned to shake the newly-rebuilt car down at Mallory Park until testing was lost to bad weather. The car is being run by fellow long-serving FF runner Don Hardman and the project starts the 30th season for the Kestenbaum/Hardman alliance.

McBride starts 20th year with Nutt

Historic rally driver Dessie Nutt and co-driver Geraldine McBride are about to start their 20th season of rallying together. The Porsche 911 crew first teamed up for the 1998 Galway Rally and won the British Historic Rally title in 2004 and 2009. Their first event of this year will mark a return to gravel on Rally North Wales (March 24).

Bob Seager workin' on his Midget moves

After a couple of seasons concentrating on asphalt events, Bob Seager is taking his MG Midget back into the forests to contest this season’s British Historic Rally Championship. Seager has been encouraged back to gravel by the Rally 2WD format and is now looking for a co-driver for the Category 1 car.

Whizzo to be honoured by Harrison

In honour of Barrie ‘Whizzo’ Williams, who announced his retirement from racing in last week, Andy Harrison will race in the same crash helmet colours this season. Renowned Mini expert Harrison, who regularly shared historic Minis with Williams, has christened his newly-built FIA specification racing Mini as ‘Whizz’.

Single entry for BTRDA class

The Mitsubishi Galant VR4 of Tom Coughtrie and Baz Green will be the sole historic Category 4B on Saturday’s Cambrian Rally. The British Trial & Rally Drivers' Association has opened its Historic Cup out to include the 4WD cars of the late 1980s this season. Coughtrie will be one of seven historic contenders on the North Wales event.

John Smith passes away

Former leading Irish racer John Smith died recently at the age of 81. In the 1960s and 1970s, Smith was a well known racer, starting with his own Smith Special which he later converted into a Formula Ford. He then raced Formula 2 and Formula Atlantic cars, including the March 722 now raced successfully in Historic F2 by his son Darwin.

Win a Mini passenger ride

Irish historic Mini ace Ray Cunningham will give at least one lucky winner a passenger ride during the Mini Magic event at the Pallas Track, Tynagh, on Sunday July 15. Cunningham’s Galway Mini Centre will display several competition Minis and anyone arriving at the event in a Mini will be entered into a draw for the memorable passenger run.

Fulvia wins Historic Monte Carlo Rally

The Italian crew of Gianmaria Aghem and Diego Cumino won the 21st Rallye Monte Carlo Historique in their Lancia Fulvia when the regularity event finished in Monaco last week. Aghem repeated his 2005 victory by seeing off the challenge of the Greek entered VW Golf GTi of George Delaportas.

Images courtesy of Paul Lawrence

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