BRC

Ford Racing Pumas Rall of Kent preview

Ford will target its third British rally win of 2001 on Saturday (13 October) when a pair of Rapid Fit Puma Super 1600 rally cars contest the Barretts Rally of Kent - round five of the all-new Formula Rally championship. Currently, Ford holds ...

Ford will target its third British rally win of 2001 on Saturday (13 October) when a pair of Rapid Fit Puma Super 1600 rally cars contest the Barretts Rally of Kent - round five of the all-new Formula Rally championship. Currently, Ford holds strong second places in both the drivers' and the manufacturers' championship battles and is determined to capture both titles.

Star Puma driver Martin Rowe - the 1998 British Rally Champion and victor of two Formula Rally events so far - is eager to repeat his earlier winning form. "From the very first moment, we'll be going 'flat-out' in Kent to claim Ford's third victory of the year and recapture the championship leads," enthuses the super-fit 29-year old from Northants.

"None of the top drivers have much experience of this rally but my co-driver Chris Woods won the event in 1999. He says the forest stages are genuinely challenging and should provide close-fought battles. With so many short stages there'll be no room for error and making up lost time will be very difficult. Once more, Formula Rally will provide a tough competition - one we aim to win."

In Kent, the second Rapid-Fit Puma will be driven by Rowe's regular Ford team mate French ace Patrick Magaud, who led in Wales, took third place on his recent Scottish debut and holds third place in the championship. For the seven-round Formula Rally series, 42-year old Magaud is co-driven by his wife Guylene Brun.

The Rally of Kent brings forest stage rallying to within an hour's drive of London and should attract a host of rally fans. Ford may enter three Pumas, prepared and operated from Essex by Boreham-based Ford Racing. Two will carry the bright yellow and blue colours of the Ford Motor Company's 'walk-in' fast-fit service operation - Rapid Fit. The third Puma (to be confirmed) is for 20-year old Belgian ace Francois Duval, returning to Britain and hoping to repeat his third place finish in round 2 of the series. His co-driver is Jean Marc Fortin.

Philip Dunabin, Engineering Manager at Ford Racing, is looking forward to next weekend's event: "Though it's south of the Thames, the Rally of Kent is almost a 'home' event for Ford Racing. It will be the closest-ever rally to our Boreham base that we have entered. The three Pumas in Kent will have a similar chassis set-up to the Scottish Rally, which we may 'fine tune' after the recce. That set-up was devised after extensive testing on gravel in Greece and Finland earlier this year and the drivers are happy with the car's handling on the loose."

Rally of Kent, 13 October 2001 Based in the Kent County Showground at Detling, the Rally of Kent will take Formula Rally competitors through 16 special stages, covering a total of 68 miles. First car will leave the starting ramp in Ashford at 07.30 hrs, before visiting stages on the Isle of Grain, in Medway and in three forests - Hemsted, Bedgebury and Kings Wood. There will be three service halts at the Showground during the day. Surviving cars return to the finish ramp at approximately 18.00 hrs after driving a total of 310 miles.

Championship Positions (after round 4 of 7) Drivers
1 Justin Dale 32 points. 2 Martin Rowe 26 pts. 3 Patrick Magaud 11 pts. 4 Mats Andersson 8 pts. 5 Martin Sansom 6 pts. 6 = Simon Mauger, Francois Duval & David Henderson 4 pts. 9 Michael Brew 3 pts. 10 = Garry Jennings & Paul Wedgbury 2 pts. 12 = Rory Galligan & David Higgins 1 pt.

Manufacturers
1 Peugeot 70 points. 2 Ford 65 pts. 3 Proton 35 pts. 4 Volkswagen 16 pts.

Ford Puma Super 1600 rally car Designed to comply with the latest FIA regulations for the Junior World Championship, the Puma Super 1600 is a hand-built machine fitted with a high-strength steel-cage crew survival cell. Wider wheel arches and bumpers accommodate long-travel suspension, bigger wheels and wider Pirelli tyres, and boost the overall width by 128 mm. The all-alloy Zetec SE engine is highly modified to produce 200 bhp (up from 125 bhp) and is mated to a Hewland six-speed sequential racing gearbox. Fuel tank size is increased by 15 litres, but weight is cut by 89 kgs to just 950 kgs.

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