Group A touring cars – including the Spa 24 Hours-winning Sierra Cosworth and the only 4wd Nissan Primera – return to a storied battle ground
Group A touring cars dominated the paddock and tarmac at the Silverstone Classic, with iconic figures arriving from all over the world.
Ford Sierra RS500 Cosworth
The 1989 Spa 24 Hours-winning Ford Sierra RS500 was reunited with driver Gianfranco Brancatelli and race team boss Rüdi Eggenberger on its first race in Europe for 28 years. Owner Peter Sturgeon brought the Bastos-liveried RS from Christchurch, New Zealand, while Eggenberger drove from Switzerland in his motorhome.
Said Eggenberger, ‘After Spa the brake discs, bearings, engine, and pistons were like new. It could have done the 24 Hours again. After I sold it in 2005 it maybe did a hillclimb, but it’s still exactly as raced at Spa. The only problem now is finding the right cable to connect the computer to the engine management system.’
His biggest problem in the Eighties was the limited scope for modification, ‘The regulations is the Bible, but we could only make small changes – moving the suspension pickup points 20mm, for example.’
Nissan Primera PX4
This unique four-wheel drive version of the Nissan Primera touring car is back in action after decades being used as a trackside ornament at a karting circuit in Kirkcaldy.
‘Its 4x4 system was its Achilles’ heel,’ said owner Allister Mcmillan. ‘It handled well, but suffered drivetrain losses and had propshaft issues too.
‘Nissan built it in 1995 to challenge Audi in the European Touring Car Championship and it had a good driver in ex-f1 star Ivan Capelli, but its development had been rushed. I had to get its gearbox engineer to redesign it as the drive-distributing compound drop gear kept shearing.
‘Nissan actually built 500 4WD Primeras just so it could homologate this one car. The grip’s superb; I’ll run slicks unless it’s torrential.’
This Mclaren M8B made its Silverstone debut, its first race in Europe since Jo Bonnier drove it to second in the 1968 Swedish Grand Prix at Karlskoga. It was also a debut for Max Banks of Alfaholics, who’s only raced Alfas. ‘I thought I would be terrified – it’s incredibly fast – but it’s so natural, like a big go-kart.’ Sharing with brother Andrew he finished third in the Historic Sports Cars race.
After the Swedish GP Bonnier took chassis to America and contested five rounds of the 1968 Can-am Challenge Cup with a best place of eighth at Las Vegas. For 1969 it was one of three Mclarens raced by John Cordts to secure 10th in the Cup.
‘It had been restored by an originaiity nut. As soon as I sat in it I knew one day I’d own it,’ said Banks.
Phil Hall debuted his newly-acquired Theodore at Silverstone, the site of its only victory. ‘Keke Rosberg won the non-championship Daily Express Trophy in 1978 – it hammered with rain and everyone else fell off,’ said Hall. ‘Rosberg was a demon in the wet. Otherwise, it never finished.
‘Before this car, Theodore boss Teddy Yip rebadged other cars. He wanted his own chassis, so hired Ron Tauranac who put F1 parts on a Ralt F3 tub. Mine is chassis two; chassis one was written off at Kyalami.
‘It was run on an absolute shoestring... Yip used secondhand tyres. Loads of things failed – engine, oil pipes, electrics. But he was a true independent. This is the only true Theodore on the Masters F1 grid – the other one is a rebadged Ensign.’
Spa-winning Cossie made a triumphant return to European action after almost three decades