The man responsible for some of the greatest Touring Cars the world has ever seen was a true Ford hero...
This month we pay our respects to Rudi Eggenberger.
E ggenberger Motorsport represents an exciting chapter in Ford’s racing history. The Swiss team competed in the European Touring Car Championship (ETCC) through the 1980s, but it’s 1986 when it gets really interesting for us.
This was the year in which Eggenberger Motorsport switched to being the official Ford factory team, initially running the Sierra XR4Ti and Cosworth, then moving to the boxfresh Sierra RS500 in 1987.
The driving force behind the team was Rudi Eggenberger, a man referred to by his team as ‘chef’ [meaning ‘chief’], thanks to his fastidious attention to detail. Starting out as a race driver himself – and a thoroughly decent one too – Rudi ultimately decided that his skills lay more in team management and race preparation rather than being the man behind the wheel, and in the late 1970s he developed a Group 2 BMW 320 for the ETCC, taking the title outright in the 2.0-litre class in 1980. Buoyed by this success, Eggenberger Motorsport levelled-up to the top tier of the class rankings with biggerengined BMWs; Volvo had keenly noticed these relentless successes and approached Eggenberger to run their works team. Rudi’s crew took the also-ran 240 Turbo and turned it into an improbable championshipwinner, and it was for this reason that Ford of Germany came knocking to harness that expertise for their Sierra campaigns.
Successes came in the ETCC, the Spa 24-Hours and at Bathurst, and continued into the 1990s when the team entered a couple of Mondeos into the Super Tourenwagen Cup in ’94. 1995 was Rudi Eggenberger’s last season in top-flight motorsport, after which point he focused on the restoration and racing of classic cars.
Sadly, Rudi passed away earlier this year, but his passion for racing never wavered and he could be seen ‘hands-on’ in the pits working on the RS500s he’d built 30 years earlier right up until last year.
The famous Texaco-liveried Eggenberger Sierra RS500s will always be Ford icons, and the man responsible for running them will always be remembered as a Ford hero.