The British Touring Automotive Championship has at all times been a approach for the producers to carry the relatable and extra inexpensive fashions of their line-up to TV screens – often on a Sunday. Kids throughout the schoolyard would argue whether or not the Ford Mondeo sat on the driveway was superior to the Renault Laguna that their good friend’s mother and father owned, based mostly on the result of the current races.
The Tremendous Tourer period of the British Touring Automotive Championship (BTCC) is commonly remembered fondly for the no-compromise, open-chequebook mentality it embodied. Whereas the annual budgets have by no means been disclosed, rumours abound of numbers between 8 and 12 million kilos to run three automobiles for the 2000 season, with the automobiles themselves costing near 1 million kilos.
Prodrive undertook the mammoth job of creating the Ford Mondeo for the 1999 and 2000 seasons, and chassis quantity PR-ST/F-2K-01 – as pushed by Alain Menu in interval – was introduced out of hibernation from their assortment to be displayed at Bicester Heritage’s current Spring Scramble.
Such a outstanding paint job was identifiable from midway throughout the positioning, the vivid blue and yellow standing out in opposition to the backdrop of weathered brickwork and inexperienced buildings.
As you moved ever nearer, you begin noticing the extra apparent variations to the road-going counterpart. Massive center-lock wheels tucked into the arches and the outstanding entrance splitter hugging the bottom, paired with a boot wing.
The physique shells underwent an enormous quantity of preparation to carry them as much as Tremendous Tourer commonplace. Because the story goes, the shells had been shot-blasted, left uncovered to the weather to rust, and the method repeated once more few instances to skinny the metallic down. The automobiles then obtained a single coat of gloss paint, with no primer. Any non-essential brackets had been faraway from the inside, and beneath the gas tank was flat-bottomed to assist aerodynamics.
Whereas the entrance wings appear like inventory objects which were reworked, they’re really utterly bespoke. Beginning with a flat metal sheet, every wing was hand-formed to supply the required wheel and tyre clearance. This mixed with the tubbed interior wings returned some room for steering lock.
The rear arches clearly didn’t obtain as a lot care; they appear to have been rolled pretty swiftly in an effort to suit the wheel/tyre package deal. Regardless of a multi-million pound finances, typically issues get the hammer remedy.
The entrance and rear bumpers are inventory, however have had all reinforcements eliminated. That cylindrical form protruding from the grill? It’s for an air line to hook up with the onboard air jacks.
19×9-inch center-lock magnesium O.Z. Racing wheels sit at every nook, nonetheless sporting interval Dunlop race rubber. Enormous AP Racing 6-piston water-cooled callipers offered braking duties on the entrance axle, with a smaller 4-piston setup on the rear.
Opening the doorways and also you’ll see the drilled-out hinges and thinner latch – an extra reminder of the strict eating regimen the automobile underwent.
The seat isn’t the place you anticipate it to be; it’s moved again in keeping with the B-pillar and hugs the central tunnel. Its place is as near the centreline of the automobile as doable, all in support of optimum stability. Neither the steering nor the brakes are assisted, making for a physically-demanding drive.
Carbon fibre adorns any floor which isn’t naked metallic, with solely two gauges current on the sprint within the sightline of the motive force – oil stress and temperature.
A carbon centre console homes important controls and fuses, together with offering a mounting location for the Xtrac 6-speed sequential gearbox shifter.
Transferring spherical to the entrance, it’s apparent to see that a large portion of the cash went into the engine. The two.5L V6 initially from a Ford Probe was downsized to 2.0L to fulfill laws, and whereas Prodrive retained the Cosworth-developed engine for the 1999 season, they had been creating their very own engine for the following one.
To cite George Howard-Chapell, Prodrive race workforce chief engineer, “When Prodrive took on the automobiles for the start of the 1999 season we knew we had to enhance most areas of the automobile, together with the efficiency of the engine. Nearly all of the chassis-related issues had been addressed for the 1999 automobile, so to win the championship in 2000 meant splitting our efforts – 1/tenth on the mechanical methods, 2/10ths on the aerodynamics and seven/10ths on the engine.”
Quite a few key areas had been recognized and labored on closely throughout the growth. Gearbox, valvetrain, the oil system, respiratory and combustion had been all intently dissected and improved upon. The cylinder heads had been presupposed to have value the identical as their F1 equivalents on the time, and 682 of the 806 main elements within the engine had been modified or modified. The consequence? Over 300hp at 8,500rpm.
These engines weren’t simple to start out. Such had been the tight tolerances of the engine that the oil wanted to be preheated, and as soon as that was achieved the oil system would have to be primed manually adopted by cranking to construct oil stress earlier than finally firing up.
The V6 itself is barely seen, sitting way back to doable. An enormous air field hides most of it, feeding recent air to the six particular person throttle our bodies. And so low is the engine that the driveshaft to the passenger-side wheel from the gearbox runs between the V.
All the trouble was value it although, and the automobiles had been fiercely aggressive in 2000 with 11 race wins from 24 races. This resulted in Ford Workforce Mondeo not solely taking the Drivers Championship (Alain Menu), however second (Anthony Reid) and third (Rickard Rydell) too. Unsurprisingly, Ford Workforce Mondeo additionally received the 2000 Producers Championship and the 2000 Touring Groups Championship.
The dramatic rule change to chop prices for the 2001 season put an finish to the Tremendous Tourer period, and whereas we mourn its demise, most of the automobiles reside on both in historic racing or being introduced out for particular occasions just like the Goodwood Pageant of Velocity.
Till the chance presents itself to see one other Tremendous Tourer in such shut proximity, I’m off to fireplace up TOCA 2 on the unique Ps to get my repair.