RALLY ESCOS

Ex-Group A rally Es­cort now does bat­tle on the race track!

Fast Ford - - Contents - Words: Dan Goodyer Photos: Ade Bran­nan

Con­fus­ing isn’t it? If you had to read the in­tro sev­eral times just to make sense of it, you’re prob­a­bly not alone. The story be­hind this tyreshred­din’ Es­cort Cos­worth is tricky to ex­plain. To be fair, it’s very rare that the build of any

Fast Ford fea­ture car is straight­for­ward. That’s what hap­pens when peo­ple re­count years of hard graft and spec changes, then we try to share all this info over just a few pages. A job that’s made both eas­ier and more dif­fi­cult in this case, by the fact a big chunk of the story is miss­ing.

Maybe we should just look at the pretty pictures in­stead? Our pho­tog­ra­pher Ade re­ally en­joyed shoot­ing this WRC rep, as Ross at­tempted to de­stroy all four tyres with huge power-slides. There are few sights in the au­to­mo­tive world that can match a rally-spec Es­cort Cos­worth at max­i­mum at­tack. Let alone one with a Rep­sol livery to help it look just like Car­los Sainz’s 1996-97 World Rally Car.

So it was ap­pro­pri­ate that Drift­land was the venue for our pho­to­shoot, the first ded­i­cated drift cir­cuit in Europe, based just north of Ed­in­burgh in Scot­land. Ross doesn’t live that far from the track, he’s a reg­u­lar face at Track­days down at Knock­hill too. You can’t miss him, he’s the one go­ing side­ways with a big grin on his face. Thing is, he nearly missed out on th­ese fun times.

“The plan was to buy an Im­pe­rial Blue road car,”

ex­plains Ross. “I’ve al­ways had fast Fords and I’ve got a long-term Sap­phire 4x4 project car that I’ve taken back to a bare shell. So about four years ago I started look­ing for a road car I could en­joy and help me get out of the garage for a bit. Then I saw this. It was on Ebay, ad­ver­tised as gen­uine Group A rally car. Un­for­tu­nately some of the car had been re­turned to fac­tory road­spec parts, in­clud­ing the brakes and sus­pen­sion. I still liked what I saw. The op­por­tu­nity to buy a gen­uine rally car was too good to miss.”

Ross dis­cov­ered the car was orig­i­nally built for Group A ral­ly­ing by Gordon Spooner En­gi­neer­ing, way back in 1995. The Group A class was in­tro­duced by the FIA in 1982, to re­place Group 2 for “mod­i­fied tour­ing cars”. This meant Group A cars could be tweaked slightly, to make them faster than stock. While Group N catered for cars that were pretty much fac­tory ex­am­ples with a few safety ad­di­tions.

By the time this car was built, just 2,500 pro­duc­tion cars had to be sold to qual­ify it for Group A ac­tion. At the time, ev­ery com­pet­i­tive car had four-wheel drive and a two-litre tur­bocharged en­gine, so the Es­cort Cos­worth be­came a very pop­u­lar tool for the job. Gordon Spooner earned a rep­u­ta­tion of build­ing fast and re­li­able rally cars, with their le­gendary Chief En­gi­neer Brian ‘Baz’ Can­non.

So we know that the un­der­pin­nings of this car are from the top drawer. Un­for­tu­nately, we don’t know a lot about the years be­tween it be­ing built and Ross buy­ing the car. Although he did have a brief en­counter with a for­mer owner, when he showed the car at Ford Fair last year. “He said it fin­ished sec­ond in what­ever Cham­pi­onship it was com­pet­ing in,” re­calls Ross. “I wish I had asked

Sen­si­ble up­grades mean this YB pro­duces a re­li­able 320-340bhp - enough for some se­ri­ous fun with­out fear of things break­ing!

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