Young people today don’t know what they’re missing. When I were a lad (well perhaps a bit older than a lad) we watched 500bhp Ford Sierra Cosworth’s battle it out with E30 M3s and even the occasional R32 Nissan GT-R. That was touring car racing.
But that was 25 years ago and anyone aged under 30 probably has no idea what I’m talking about. But thanks to next month’s Silverstone Classic, you can either go and reminisce or educate yourself on those halcyon days of touring car racing. Take my word for it, they were thrilling to watch.
Between 20th and 22nd July, the 2012 Silverstone Classic will pay homage to the winged wondercar, marking the RS500’s silver anniversary with two special touring car races plus a large display dedicated to both competition and showroom derivatives.
A little history..
It was back in 1985 that Ford shocked the world by launching the original Sierra Cosworth – a turbocharged version of its basic family hatchback that came complete with a ‘whale-tail’ rear spoiler and ample performance to embarrass many a supercar.
After 5000 of these ‘standard’ 150mph ‘Cossies’ had been produced, international Group A competition rules allowed Ford to develop an even hotter ‘evolution’ version, of which only 500 were needed to meet the homologation regulations – hence the introduction of the flame-spitting RS500 in August 1987.
Now armed with a bigger turbocharger plus a host of other aerodynamic and performance related upgrades, racing versions could develop more than 500bhp and were quick to make their mark in motor sport. In 1988 the RS500 dominated the European Touring Car Championship and won national titles in Germany, Belgium, Spain and Holland.
It was in the coveted British Touring Car Championship, though, that the RS500 really earned its reputation with drivers such as Andy Rouse, Steve Soper and Robb Gravett enjoying a record unbeaten run of 40 consecutive victories between September 1987 and the end of 1990, after which saloon car racing adopted a new non-turbo Super Touring formula.
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Twenty five years on, those remarkable achievements will be showcased in two Fuji Film Touring Car Trophy races to be staged at the Silverstone Classic.
Marking the occasion, no fewer than five RS500s will head an impressive entry list that includes close to 50 of the world’s finest touring cars from 1975-1999 – and more are expected to be announced in the coming weeks. Among the RS500s already confirmed is Dave Brodie in his familiar ‘Run Baby Run’ Sierra, a regular BTCC front-runner back in the late Eighties.
Adding to the weekend’s celebrations, the RS Owners Club is putting together a large collection of more than 40 road and racing RS500s for display.
“The RS500 is already part of motor sport folklore and we are thrilled to have so many participating at this year’s classic,” enthused event director Nick Wigely. “Watching the mighty Cossies racing against the more modern generation of Super Tourers is going to be every bit as intriguing as spectacular. The newer cars may be more advanced in terms of technology but with rear-wheel-drive and massive turbos the dramatic RS500s are sure to be huge crowds pleasers.”
2012’s Silverstone Classic runs from 20th to 22nd July and you can pick up tickets to the event from as little as £35, with special 2 and 3-day weekend tickets available at a 20% discount if purchased in advance. Full details are available at silverstoneclassic.com.