FORD’S TI

An­drew Jor­dan and Kevin Turner went to get to

Motor Sport News - - Monsters: Ford Sierra Rs500 - FORD RS500 BTCC RACE WIN­NERS Pho­tos: Jakob Ebrey, LAT

Few ma­chines can even come close to chal­leng­ing the Ford RS500 as tour­ing car’s great­est mon­ster. Quite apart from the ridicu­lous power and tyre-en­dan­ger­ing per­for­mance, Ford’s Group A tin-top won mul­ti­ple races around the world and was un­beaten in the Bri­tish Tour­ing Car Cham­pi­onship be­tween Septem­ber 1987 and the end of 1990, when it was es­sen­tially out­lawed by rule mak­ers.

Hav­ing al­ready tasted suc­cess with the Xr4ti and RS Cos­worth, four-time BTCC cham­pion Andy Rouse brought the car into the se­ries – im­proved aero, a big­ger in­ter­cooler and twin in­jec­tors be­ing the big ad­vances over its pre­de­ces­sor. Rouse dom­i­nated the 1988 and ’89 BTCC sea­sons, but missed out on the over­all driv­ers’ crown thanks to the idio­syn­cratic class-based scor­ing sys­tem. Robb Gravett put that right in 1990, tak­ing nine wins from the 13 races, be­fore Group A gave way to the nor­mally as­pi­rated two-litre cat­e­gory that would be­come Su­per Tour­ing.

Given his ex­pe­ri­ence in a range of ma­chin­ery and love of pow­er­ful cars, 2013 BTCC cham­pion An­drew Jor­dan seemed the ideal man for Mo­tor­sport News to put be­hind the wheel of an orig­i­nal Andy Rouse Engi­neer­ing-built ex­am­ple. Can the tur­bo­car live up to its rep­u­ta­tion?

The RS500 wait­ing for Jor­dan to drive on the his­toric ver­sion of the Sil­ver­stone Grand Prix track is one of the most orig­i­nal around. Now owned by An­drew Kirkley, chas­sis 0388 was built for Lau­rence Bristow’s 1988 BTCC at­tack. Shar­ing with fu­ture cham­pion Tim Har­vey, Bristow took the car to sec­ond at Don­ing­ton Park and scored two other podi­ums that sea­son.

The car then spent some time in Ja­pan be­fore be­ing re­built. Kirkley, who had raced a Ford Lo­tus Cortina in his­toric events that some­times sup­ported the BTCC dur­ing the RS500’S hey­day, then ac­quired the car. He used it on track days, but his first ex­pe­ri­ence wasn’t great.

“I came into a cor­ner and I spun,” he re­calls. “I ac­cel­er­ated, I spun. If I sneezed I spun! The old road tyres weren’t up to it. Then we put slicks on and the car came alive.

“In the wet I can’t see where I’m go­ing – the wipers don’t seem to work fast enough – but the grip from the Dun­lop wet tyres is bonkers.”

Kirkley has raced the RS500 in Ford Sa­loon/boss races and friend Gra­ham Wait was suc­cess­ful in the 2013 Su­per Tour­ing se­ries.

The Cam-liv­er­ied tin-top still has Bil­stein sus­pen­sion, in­stead of more so­phis­ti­cated later set-ups used on some of its his­toric rac­ing ri­vals, and a ba­sic ECU. It nev­er­the­less can still pro­duce over 500bhp, Kirkley tend­ing to “run it at less than 2.2 bar [boost] oth­er­wise you don’t get the re­li­a­bil­ity”. He also ad­mits to soft­en­ing-off the sus­pen­sion, away from the “Rouse stiff ” set-up it had be­fore.

When Jor­dan ar­rives (he’s also pi­lot­ing Porsche 911 GT1 and Lola T70 sportscars on the day) he starts get­ting ac­quainted with a car dif­fer­ent to the front-wheel drive 300bhp Mo­tor­base Ford Fo­cus he races in the BTCC.

“It’s a re­ally cool-look­ing car,” says the 27-year-old. “I had a lit­tle model of a Tex­aco RS500 when I was a kid.”

Quick brief­ing with Kirkley – who also pre­pares the car – com­pleted, Jor­dan heads down the Wing pit­lane in the rear-wheel-drive racer. An oily smell he doesn’t like brings Jor­dan in af­ter one lap but, once checks have con­firmed all is well, he presses on.

It’s not long be­fore Jor­dan has the tail out, is us­ing the kerbs, and lap­ping on a com­pet­i­tive pace. He sets his best lap just as the flag comes out and rain be­gins to fall. We’re al­ready wish­ing Jor­dan could have a go at rac­ing the Ford too.

“It’s a f*****g hand­ful,” he says even be­fore climb­ing out. “That would sort the cur­rent BTCC grid out! It 100 per cent would sort the men from the boys.”

Once out of the car and back in the pad­dock, Jor­dan is able to give some more ex­ten­sive feed­back. Like many cars of the ’80s, the Ford com­bines im­mense power with quite rudi­men­tary tech­nol­ogy.

“It’s ba­sic, with an old-school boost gauge and boost knob,” ex­plains AJ. “Com­pared to now, they look so ba­sic in­side, but looks can be de­ceiv­ing. When it first comes on boost it’s not sub­tle. There’s noth­ing and then it’s ev­ery­thing; it caught me out a cou­ple of times, how the boost came on. When I went out the pit­lane I got on it and I left a big pair of ‘11’s be­hind me.

“I can see why you’d have to do a lot of driv­ing in­put to keep the boost up; build­ing throt­tle against left-foot brak­ing. It was hard to an­tic­i­pate when it was go­ing to come on.”

As well as the turbo lag com­mon with cars of the pe­riod, Jor­dan im­me­di­ately points to the chas­sis be­ing some way be­hind the grunt. “It’s ba­sic sus­pen­sion and damp­ing com­pared to the horse­power,” he adds.

“There were a cou­ple of times com­ing out onto the Hangar Straight when it hit the bump there as it got boost and it was arms ev­ery­where. I’m sure it’s

Andy Rouse 20* Robb Gravett 13* Tim Har­vey 2 David Sears 2* Pete Hall 1 Steve Soper 1 Gian­franco Bran­catelli 1 Jerry Ma­hony 1 Lau­rence Bristow 1* Tiff Needell 1* Mike Smith 1*

Cam-spon­sored Sierra RS500 was a hand­ful Jor­dan has tried var­i­ous tour­ing car vin­tages In­te­rior was ba­sic up against the mod­ern cars

Be­tween the years of 1987-1990 Ford’s Sierra RS500S dom­i­nated the Bri­tish Tour­ing Car Cham­pi­onship

An­drew Jor­dan

Car had more power than grip

Even with­out full boost the RS500 had grunt

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