Ford's pair of Rapid Fit Puma Super 1600 rally cars will be targeting their third victory of 2001 next weekend (15 September) when they contest the Scottish Rally -- round four of Britain's all-new Formula Rally championship. Currently, Ford leads...
Ford's pair of Rapid Fit Puma Super 1600 rally cars will be targeting their third victory of 2001 next weekend (15 September) when they contest the Scottish Rally -- round four of Britain's all-new Formula Rally championship. Currently, Ford leads the championship, topping both the drivers' and the manufacturers' points tables. In Scotland, the 110 mph Pumas will once again be driven by the regular Ford team members -- 1998 British Rally Champion Martin Rowe (with two Formula Rally wins so far) and French ace Patrick Magaud (who led in Wales and holds third place in the championship). For the seven-round Formula Rally series, 29-year old Rowe is co-driven by Chris Wood, while 42-year old Magaud is co-driven by his wife Guylene Brun.
Ford's championship leader Rowe is keen to maintain his own and Ford's winning form. "After so much frustration caused by the foot & mouth outbreak, it will be great to return to rallying through forests, the natural home of British rally sport. Some of these Scottish special stages are classics and our Saturday morning starts with a 19-miler near Ae -- so that should give us all a serious wake-up call," explains Rowe.
"As well as winning the Wirral and Silverstone rallies, I've shown real pace with the Puma in Germany on asphalt and recently in Finland on gravel, so I'm sure Ford can do really well in Scotland and we are hopeful of scoring our third win."
Ford leads the Drivers' and Manufacturers' Formula Rally championships and is determined to capture both these crowns in 2001. For the Scottish event, the two Pumas will be prepared and operated from Essex by Boreham-based Ford Racing -- carrying the bright yellow and blue colours of the Ford Motor Company's 'walk-in' fast-fit service operation -- Rapid Fit.
Philip Dunabin, Engineering Manager at Ford Racing, sets the scene: "The Scottish Rally presents the toughest challenge for both the drivers and the cars that we have seen so far and we're all pleased to be able to tackle a genuine forest rally after the cancellations due to foot and mouth problems. We carried out a considerable amount of testing for the world championship rounds in Greece and Finland and the results will be incorporated into the cars for Scotland. We concentrated especially on engine development, differential set-up and new valving for the shock absorbers," he said.
Designed to comply with the latest FIA regulations, 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.
Kumho Tyres Scottish Rally, 15 September 2001 Based in Dumfries, the Scottish Rally will take Formula Rally competitors through six special stages, covering a total of 65 miles. First car will leave the starting ramp in English Street at 08.00 hrs, before visiting stages at Ae, Windy Hill, Twiglees and Castle O'Er with four service halts at Heathhall. Surviving cars return to the finish ramp at 16.30 hrs after driving 195 miles.
Formula Rally Championship Standings (after round 3 of 7)
Manufacturers: 1 Ford 55 points, 2 Peugeot 50 pts, 3 Proton 20 pts, Volkswagen 8 pts.
Drivers: 1 Martin Rowe 26 points, 2 Justin Dale 22 pts, 3 Patrick Magaud 11 pts, 4 Simon Mauger & Francois Duval 4 pts, 6 Martin Sansom 3 pts, 7 Mats Andersson 2 pts.