The latest round of the British Rally Championship took place last Saturday at the Dumfries. And if there’s one thing the Scots have a reputation for, it’s having some of the toughest courses in the calendar. The fast and flinty Ae forest has a reputation for being a destroyer of tyres, machinery and… driver reputations!
The team at RallyTravel would admit that the unforgiving stages were perhaps not the best choice of event to try out some new tyres on their 270bhp rear wheel drive Ford Escort MK2, but David Hutchinson and co. decided to try out their Kumho R800s. And it paid off. BIG TIME! The team took 2nd in class, 50th overall and 3rd of the classic rear wheel drive cars. Great result.
The competition was stiff. With over 120 cars, including the current top British and Scottish Rally Championship teams combining for the only time this season, and with a top 30 packed full of four wheel drive turbocharged cars. It was a tough race, but RallyTravel were delighted with their result 1st time out with Kumho Tyre!
“We were amazed at the amount of times we passed whole tyre carcasses and pieces of tyre tread out on the stages. The rocky stages were really destroying some of our competitor’s tyres, particularly if you strayed off the line on the exit of the corners. Despite trying to keep the car near and tidy through the bends we couldn’t miss hitting a rock the size of a water-melon on the last stage, but even that didn’t seem to harm our tyres although it didn’t do much for mine and co-driver Jeff Garnett’s nerves in the car!” David Hutchinson @ RallyTravel.
We spoke to David and we were lucky enough to get some more info about the car:
“When we started the project late in 2014 the build brief to the experienced team at Motoscope was for a modern take on the classic 1970’s Mk2 Escort Group 4 ‘Forest’ rally car. I wanted to keep the actual driving experience as close as possible to that which rally heroes such as Ari Vatanen, Hannu Mikkola and Roger Clark enjoyed back in the day, but using modern technology to make an affordable and reliable car for the modern day. So, instead of the classic Cosworth BDA engine a modern fuel injected 2.3 litre Ford Duratec engine was selected which in it’s current form of tuning gives out 270bhp, even more power than the original engines but for a fraction of the cost and requiring less maintenance. Another benefit to using a modern Ford engine is that there is plenty of torque which makes the car easier to drive, easier to make the car slide through the corners and easier for the amateur driver to demonstrate that iconic ‘Mk2 Escort’ sideways cornering style that looks so good!
Up front there are period ‘Monte Carlo’ AP brakes developed by the Ford rally team back in the 1970s but still more than up to the job of forest rallying even in the 2010s! Modern brake pads developed from Touring Car racing give the Escort some awesome stopping power, without compromising that all important ‘feel’ which is so important when braking heavily on unpredictable dirt surfaces. A narrower version of the Kumho R800 gravel rally tyre is used on the front wheels of the car, nearly always in soft compound form as the team have found the Kumho tyres give plenty of grip, but little wear on the front wheels even in dry conditions.”
A test is planned next month with the technicians from Motoscope to further tune the car to the performance of the Kumho R800 tyres, then it’s the challenge of the legendary Wales Rally GB to look forward to in October. The team are currently in the process of lightening the Escort but even in standard competition form they tend to come in at only around 850kg, which when combined with 270bhp, rear wheel drive and gravel forest tracks makes for a lively driving experience!
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