Ri­cardo’s roll of hon­our

Motor Sport News - - Engineering Supplement - Pho­tos: Ri­cardo, LAT

For a com­pany with 100 years of en­gi­neer­ing in­no­va­tion, it’s hard to pin­point one high­light to fo­cus on, as Ri­cardo’s MD, Mark Barge freely ad­mits. “I’ve been here over 30 years and there’s loads, so it’s hard to an­swer that ques­tion hon­estly.

“Audi at Le Mans was a game changer. And that wasn’t be­cause you could change the gear­box in un­der four min­utes. Race teams are highly skilled at mak­ing the best in­ter­pre­ta­tion of the reg­u­la­tions in which to make theirs the fastest ve­hi­cle in the elapsed time. What was a game changer were the tar­gets that Audi gave us to pro­duce the LMP trans­mis­sion. In 2000 that was 700Nm, 5000kms dura­bil­ity and 20,000 shifts with a very small devel­op­ment win­dow. We had to pass first time. And we did it. We did it by not do­ing it the old-fash­ioned cot­tage in­dus­try way. We did it us­ing a com­pletely in­te­grated ap­proach with the client’s en­gi­neers and our own motorsport team. You have to de­sign the con­cept to fit in their ve­hi­cle chas­sis sys­tem. By com­bin­ing our own let’s say ‘core tech­ni­cal con­sult­ing’ skills, ad­vanced anal­y­sis, ad­vanced sim­u­la­tion tools, rig-base test­ing… We de­liv­ered!”

While the 24 hours on the smooth Le Mans cir­cuit is one chal­lenge, the mul­ti­ple ter­rains and con­di­tions in the WRC are a whole new ball game. It’s fair to say that Ri­cardo’s vis­cous cou­pling sys­tem – al­ready in use in Ford’s Sierra XR4X4 and Sap­phire Cos­worth on the roads, had its hey­day in WRC. It is one of Steve Saps­ford’s choices: “The vis­cous cou­pling was our in­no­va­tion that went on to turn the whole WRC on its head. Peu­geot’s Group B 205 T16 and then Ford’s specif­i­cally de­signed RS200.”

Barge was also part of the devel­op­ment, re­call­ing the re­lent­less test­ing: “I sat with some of the best driv­ers over the years like Stig Blomqvist, tak­ing notes. When you ex­pe­ri­ence the first time a car leaves the ground in Fin­land it’s just in­cred­i­ble.”

Those two in­no­va­tions both came dur­ing Barge and Saps­ford’s time at Ri­cardo. That’s not to say they don’t ap­pre­ci­ate ear­lier mar­vels too. There’s the Fer­gu­son P99 For­mula 1 car driven to vic­tory by Stirling Moss in the driz­zle at Oul­ton Park in 1961, the only time a 4WD car has won a For­mula 1 race.

Or, from 1938/9 the su­per­charged Alfa Romeo Tipo 162 three­l­itre V16 that was sadly des­tined never to race.

Ford’s RS200 rally mon­ster used Ri­cardo in­no­va­tion

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