FORD HE­ROES

The man re­spon­si­ble for some of the great­est Tour­ing Cars the world has ever seen was a true Ford hero...

Fast Ford - - Contents -

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.

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