October 6, 2022

This legendary Ford Sierra RS500 Cosworth received the gruelling Spa 24-hour race in 1989 sporting the well-known Bastos colors. However there’s way more to the story of this automobile than that…

Function from Quick Ford journal. Images: Ade Brannan.

Constructed by Eggenberger Motorsport to compete within the European Touring Automobile Championship within the iconic Texaco colors, this legendary Ford Sierra RS500 Cosworth then went on to win the gruelling Spa 24-hour race 1989. However its unbelievable achievements on observe solely inform half the story of this automobile; the story because it was retired from official works Group A duties is simply as fascinating (and, at instances, simply as weird) as any that retell its time from the paddocks within the late Eighties.

To assist us untangle the story we referred to as on the assistance of Ford Sierra RS500 Cosworth guru and pal of Quick Ford, Paul Linfoot. Paul’s the go-to man in the case of something RS500, and much more so when it comes this specific automobile… As a result of he now owns it.

However how and when Paul got here to develop into personally concerned with the automobile comes later within the story. For now, let’s begin firstly.

Paul explains, “Eggenberger Motorsport constructed six official works vehicles that might run within the Texaco colors in 1987 and 1988. These has the chassis numbers 99261 to 99263 (the 1987 WTCC vehicles) and 99267 to 99269 (the 1988 ETCC vehicles).”

Anecdotally, Paul additionally explains the lacking three chassis numbers ’64, ’65, and ’66 had been: Seize Motorsport’s Speedware-livery automobile (that Klaus Ludwig received the championship in), a Ringshausen-prepared Texaco automobile, and the Ringshausen Lui-sponsored automobile – all competing within the DTM collection in 1988.

“The story will get sophisticated if we begin to issue all of them in, although, so for this one we’ll simply focus on the six Texaco-liveried Eggenberger-built vehicles that ran in 1987 and 1988,” says Paul.

Born within the Eighties

This automobile you see on these pages is chassis quantity 99268. Paul explains, “It was constructed for the 1988 season. We imagine its first aggressive race was in Monza on the opening spherical of the ’88 season, the place it was pushed by Klaus Niedzwiedz and Armin Hahne – Hahne drove for Wolf Racing later in 1988 however was referred to as in to switch Klaus Ludwig on the opening spherical after the German discovered himself snowed-in at a ski resort within the Swiss Alps.

“With the assistance of my pal and fellow RS500 fanatic Roy Diederen, we’ve been in a position to determine which drivers raced which chassis by taking a look at interval images and recognising delicate variations between the vehicles. As such, we now imagine this automobile was pushed by Armin Hahne, Klaus Niedzwiedz, Klaus Ludwig, Steve Soper, Pierre Dieudonné, Gianfranco Brancatelli and Didier Theys through the 1988 season.”

Ford Sierra RS500 Cosworth

Whereas it was pushed by a number of greats all through ’88, it was most regularly utilized by Soper and Dieudonné, and was a part of some epic battles all through the course of the season. One among which was the Silverstone Vacationer Trophy, which noticed the RS500 powerhouses of Andy Rouse, Dick Johnson, and Eggenberger all do battle on the identical observe on the similar time; Soper and Dieudonné completed second on this automobile.

Quick ahead to 1989, and similar to the World Touring Automobile Championship had been cancelled on the finish of 1987, the FIA pulled the plug on the ETCC on the finish of 1988, citing spiralling prices of the evolution particular fashions such because the BMW M3 Evo and, after all, Sierra RS500 Cosworth as the rationale; city legend has it that the game’s organisers had been bowing to strain from different producers to ban the all-conquering Fords, or they might stroll away from the game and splash their money elsewhere.

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New function

Subsequently, chassis 99268 was used within the German nationwide DTM collection for the 1989 season, earlier than being outlawed from that in 1990. However with the RS500s slowly being banished from all the key Touring Automobile championships, Eggenberger appeared to make use of the vehicles in high-status 24-hour endurance occasions. The group entered the Nürburgring 24-hour race in 1987 and received, the primary time a turbocharged automobile had received the occasion.

In 1988 the group returned, trying to do the double, and chassis 99268 was one of many vehicles chosen. Sadly, it was compelled to retire from that occasion however that was to not be the top of this automobile’s endurance adventures; it returned to the Nürburgring in 1989, this time sporting conventional Ford Motorsport blue-and-white livery, the place it got here third total within the fingers of Gianfranco Brancatelli, Alain Ferté and Thomas Lindström.

Winner!

However higher was but to come back. Just a few weeks later, Eggenberger entered the Ford Sierra RS500 Cosworth within the Spa 24-hours race, the place it was pushed by Brancatelli, Bernd Schneider and Win Percy, and raced within the well-known Bastos livery.

Paul explains, “As a result of the automobile was principally pushed by Soper and Dieudonné all through 1988, and their driving types had been mentioned to be kinder on the automobile, Rudi Eggenberger personally chosen this automobile for occasions just like the Spa 24-hours.”

Paul goes on to recount a fantasy that claims Bastos needed two fully new builds for the occasion, however Eggenberger solely constructed one (which, in line with the legend, was initially meant for a personal buyer however was cancelled on the final minute so the shell might be used for the second Bastos entry to Spa 24-hour), and recommissioned chassis 99268 for the occasion.

Trying resplendent in its new livery, Bastos bosses would by no means know that their ‘new’ automobile was in truth final 12 months’s ETCC contender revamped. Thoughts you, they wouldn’t have cared both – not when it went on to win the race, changing into not solely the primary RS500 to take action, but in addition the primary turbocharged automobile to win the Spa 24-hours.

Now not being eligible for DTM in 1990, the historical past will get fairly obscure as to which races the automobile competed in throughout 1990.

“One occasion we do learn about is the Spa 24-hours in 1990,” Paul says. Eggenberger needed to make use of this automobile once more, and once more the selection proved fruitful; it could not have reached the highs of the earlier 12 months, however a 3rd place total for Roland Asch, Frank Biela and Lindström was actually no imply feat; they nonetheless received their (Group A) class too.

Ford Sierra RS500 Cosworth

Retirement Age

After that, Eggenberger retired the automobile from aggressive racing, and for a few years it stayed in Rudi Eggenberger’s private assortment at his house in Switzerland.

Paul says, “On the time, he mentioned he’d by no means promote it. He needed to maintain this one because it was the primary one to win at Spa, and I feel he all the time had a delicate spot for this specific automobile above all of the others.”

It wasn’t till a divorce a few years later that the automobile emerged from Rudi’s non-public assortment; it was bought off with its full spares bundle in 2006 and was later utilized in hillclimb occasions. Fortunately, it was solely utilized in a handful of races, and wasn’t topic to any modification or improve.

“Fortunately it ran precisely because it was when it left Rudi’s,” explains Paul. “It even entered the hillclimbs nonetheless within the Bastos livery.”

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Ford Sierra RS500 Cosworth

Again in motion

Just a few years after, in 2015, a former Eggenberger mechanic purchased the automobile and set about restoring it to its 1989 Spa-winning glory. Totally refreshed, it was then supplied on the market full with the unique spares bundle, which was purchased by Peter Sturgeon over in New Zealand. In 2016 the automobile then discovered itself on the opposite facet of the globe, however not wanting to cover such an illustrious piece of motorsport historical past away without end, Peter organized for the automobile to compete in prestigious occasions such because the Silverstone Basic, Oulton Park Gold Cup and Nürburgring Basic.

Not solely did the automobile compete, however Peter efficiently reunited it with interval drivers resembling Gianfranco Brancatelli (who drove the automobile to victory at Spa in 1989) and Eggenberger group boss, Rudi Eggenberger.  And it was at one in all these conferences the place Paul’s involvement with the automobile stepped up a notch.

He provides, “Clearly I’d all the time identified in regards to the automobile, and was fortunate sufficient to have met Peter, Rudi and Gianfranco, and even assist them work on the automobile at race conferences. However on the Oulton Park Gold Cup race in 2017, I used to be about to get the chance of a lifetime; Gianfranco needed to rush again to Italy for a household emergency, and Peter requested if I wish to drive the automobile within the race.”

Ford Sierra RS500 Cosworth

Ford Sierra RS500 Cosworth – Dwelling the dream

Paul continues, “I used to be gob-smacked, nervous and excited all on the similar time. However it wasn’t one thing I might move up. Once I was referred to as in to pit, Peter and Rudi had been laughing and requested ‘had been you having enjoyable on the market?’ Once I replied ‘sure’ they only giggled and informed me that they had been making an attempt to name me in for the final seven laps… I used to be concentrating a lot that I by no means noticed the pit board.

“I let you know what although: coming down the pit lane and seeing Rudi Eggenberger waving me into the pit field was surreal. This man was my hero, and right here I used to be driving one of the well-known vehicles he’s ever constructed whereas he was crew chief within the pits.”

Sadly, Rudi handed away the next 12 months, which technically makes Paul the final man ever to race an RS500 for Rudi Eggenberger, and he has solely fond reminiscences of the person he admired. Rudi was a quiet man, however as soon as you bought to know him, he loved amusing and sensible joke, and was an entertaining character. It was clear there was mutual respect between them, as Paul recounts: “I’ll always remember that he talked about he thought we should always construct a automobile collectively; I’d helped restore the door panel after Gianfranco had a little bit of a bump in it, and Rudi mentioned, ‘we should always construct one collectively – I’ll do the engine and also you do the physique’.” Excessive reward certainly.

Not the top

Then the story takes a last twist. In 2020 Paul was supplied the possibility to purchase the automobile, however the spares bundle had been bought to Dick Johnson Racing in Australia.

Paul smiles, “DJR was planning to construct two new vehicles – what would develop into DJR 7 and DJR 8 – and needed to make use of the spare shell and spares bundle to construct up one of many vehicles. By the way, the opposite automobile could be primarily based on changing an outdated promotional automobile that was dwelling in a museum in Australia, however we’ll come on to {that a} bit later.”

However issues change rapidly within the phrase of motorsport; the person who had meant to construct DJR 7 and eight (the then-DJR group principal, Ryan Story) purchased the DJR group from Roger Penske on the finish of 2020. So, plans to construct DJR 7 and eight had been deserted so Story might focus his efforts (and funds) on the V8 Supercar championship in Australia.

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Final 12 months, Paul acquired a name from Story asking if he needed to purchase the spares bundle, so now the Bastos automobile has been reunited with its Eggenberger spares too.

However the story has one last growth. Paul explains, “Ryan is just too busy to construct the brand new RS500s he had hopes for, however he’s nonetheless eager to see DJR 7 get constructed. After chatting about it, he then requested me if I’d be thinking about constructing the automobile on his behalf. In fact, I mentioned sure, and it wasn’t lengthy earlier than the promotional automobile was in a container and on its approach to the UK. My subsequent large mission is to construct RS500 chassis DJR 7 for Dick Johnson Racing.”

And, provided that Paul additionally owns DJR 1 – the very first automobile constructed by Dick Johnson – that’s a quite becoming finish that individual story.

Ford Sierra RS500 Cosworth

What’s subsequent for the Ford Sierra RS500 Cosworth?

However what in regards to the Spa-winning automobile? What are the plans for it? Paul says, “In the meanwhile I simply need to use it for demonstrations and present the automobile off at occasions all year long, however I don’t have any plans to enter it into any extra aggressive races.”

However given the corporate Paul retains consists of family names resembling Steve Soper, Klaus Niedzwiedz, Gianfranco Brancatelli and Karl Jones, we might counsel a never-say-never caveat is utilized to Paul’s final assertion.

If you wish to see this automobile in particular person, then head to Ford Truthful at Silverstone on 14 August, the place Paul is planning to showcase the automobile as a part of the Quick Ford stand. It’s a real piece of  motorsport historical past, and to not be missed.

Tech Spec: Ford Sierra RS500 Cosworth

Engine:

1993cc YBD,  Eggenberger-spec Group A engine, RS500 205 ‘small core plug’ block, authentic rods and crank, Eggenberger-spec pistons, RS500 inlet with twin gasoline rails however solely working 4 Porsche 1200cc injectors (4 ‘yellow’ Bosch injectors fitted in second gasoline rail however not lively), ported head to Group A regs, authentic valve sizes, Eggenberger-spec cams, side-exit exhaust, RS500 intercooler, twin engine oil coolers, Bosch 1.7 ECU with Eggenberger mapping, adjustable increase swap hidden behind ECU cowl on sprint, full copper wiring loom.

Energy:

480bhp in race spec (560bhp in qualifying trim)

Transmission:

Group A-spec Getrag five- velocity with dog-leg first gear, Eggenberger-spec 7.5in ZF rear diff with spool, Group A two-piece propshaft and Group A driveshafts, cable-operated paddle clutch

Suspension:

Entrance: Bilstein Group A dampers with Eibach springs, Eggenberger-spec uprights and spindles (totally different from Rouse-spec), compression struts, adjustable TCAs, Eggenberger (non-bladed) metal entrance anti-roll bar, Eggenberger prime mounts, non-power steering quick-ratio steering rack with Eggenberger-modified steering arms; rear: solid-mounted modified beam, Eggenberger-spec aluminium rear arms, Eggenberger spindles, Bilstein dampers with Eibach springs, Group A-spec anti-roll bar; absolutely rose-jointed all through

Brakes:

Entrance: 330x32mm two-piece discs, AP Racing four-pot callipers; rear: 315x28mm vented discs, AP Racing four-pot callipers; bias pedal field with in-car adjuster, braided flexis

Wheels & tyres:

9.0x17in BBS split-rims all spherical, centre-lock wheel nuts, with Michelin 24/61-17 slick tyres

Exterior:

RS500 Group A shell, air jacks, full FIA-spec security tools, twin roof aerials for endurance racing, ran in Texaco livery in 1988 and Ford Motorsport/Borbet/Bastos livery in 1989 (at the moment in refreshed 1989 Bastos livery)

Inside:

RS500 motorsport shell, Sparco in-date race seat (authentic was carbon Recaro seat), in-date Sabelt six-point harnesses, Matter Group A-spec multi-point weld-in metal roll cage, authentic Bosch VMG monitor, AP Racing brake bias digital show, Eggenberger rev counter, further gasoline/water/increase/oil gauges, brake bias adjuster, Lifeline plumbed-in hearth extinguisher system, 120-litre bag-type gasoline tank, two Aspect raise pumps, gasoline swirl pot, two Bosch 044 gasoline pumps, braided gasoline strains, motorsport battery