TOUR OF DUTY
After finishing seventh for Ecurie Ecosse in the 1992 British Touring Car Championship (BTCC) with star Scot, David Leslie, at the wheel, and following respectable performances during the BTCC TOCA Shootouts held in 1992 and 1993, my ex-works Super Touring Cavalier GSi remained in Tamchester Team Maxted colours for the start of the 1994 season. A nineteenth place finish for the car at the close of the opening round at Thruxton on 4th April seemed like a slow but steady start for the tealcoloured Cavalier, but failure to take part in either rounds at Brands Hatch (Indy) a fortnight later, not to mention retirements at Snetterton and Oulton Park, suggested the now venerable GSi was in need of attention, even though consistently-placed finishes at Donington and Brands Hatch Grand Prix circuits in June showed there was still life left in the battleweary warhorse.
Maxted had greater success with James Kaye’s Toyota Carina, which the team ran alongside the Cavalier. Kaye successfully competed in all rounds of the season, culminating in his victory in the Total Cup (the privateers BTCC title). This achievement highlighted the Cavalier’s shortcomings, but let’s not forget the car was taking part in its fourth consecutive BTCC. Tough work.
Spectators hoping to catch sight of the GSi at Silverstone on the 10th July were left disappointed – the car had
raced its last race in the BTCC. There was, however, much to celebrate. The Cavalier had recently returned from its participation in the 1994 ADAC 24h Rennen Nürburgring. Overseas racing was nothing new for the Cavalier I would go on to buy twentythree years later; as highlighted in last issue’s trip down memory lane, my GSi had already competed at Spa in the 1993 24 Heures de Francorchamps when Khan shared driving duties with Leslie’s Ecurie Ecosse teammate, Alex Portman. For the ‘Ring outing, the car was entered as an Opel Vectra A GT, assigned the number 2 and set on its way with Dutch touring car driver, Peter Kox, and Khan’s fellow Brits, Mark Peters and Adrian Wilmott taking it in turns to pull a shift. The quartet’s efforts resulted in a 101th place finish, which might sound less than anything to shout about, but consider the fact the hostile environs of endurance racing are a challenge for cars built for the task, let alone a tired Vauxhall designed for short periods of track action. The fact the car finished at all is nothing short of impressive!
Khan wasn’t done there. A return to Spa on 29th July 1995 saw the car prepared for the year’s hotly contested twenty-four hour endurance race. Now wearing the number 10 on each door, the hardworking Vauxhall was due to be driven by Khan and Japanese World Touring Car Championship pilot, Masahiro Kimoto, along with experienced German endurance driver, Dirk ‘The Ringmeister’ Schoysman, a Nissan GT-R nut who is reported to have completed more than 15,000 laps of the Green Hell.
Sadly, the car didn’t start the race, signalling the end of an eventful twoyear period in Khan’s custody. British driver, Derek Hale (most commonly associated with the Team Rosberg Nissan Primera entered into the 1996 Campeonato de España de Turismos and the ex-Prodrive 1997 BTCC Honda Accord he raced in the 2013 HSCC Super Touring Car Trophy) bought the car (then wearing the number 25) and competed with it in the 1998 Formula Saloons Championship. He successfully managed to make the teal-coloured paint job even more grotesque by applying what is easily one of the worst touring car liveries of all time. Well done, that man!
The May 1998 edition of the excellent Cars & Conversions magazine showcased the biggest and most varied grid of Formula Saloons assembled up until that point in time. Ex-BTCC machines, Thundersaloons and DTM metal were just some of the cars ready to swap paint. Rotaryengined Mazdas, Cosworth-badged Fords, AMG-fettled Mercs and even a six-litre Pontiac-propelled Calibra lined up for the photo shoot at Snetterton, but which car do you think was leading the charge? Yep, you guessed it! Search eBay for a copy of the mag, which offers fascinating insight into classic ‘90s motorsport.
Facelift Mk3 Cavalier front end was fitted for the 1994 British Touring Car Championship
Colour-coded car and track furniture!
Derek Hale used the GSi to compete in the 1998 Formula Saloons Championship Your gran’s bathroom is a similar shade, yeah?