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Old 18 Nov 2007, 12:45 (Ref:2070169)   #1
kurtiejjj
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Trakstar Ford Sierra Sapphire - 1991 BTCC

Whatever happened to the Sierra Gravett in the 1991 BTCC? It was supertouring spec wasn't it? I am quite sure there was a second sierra racing at the time, however I don't know who drove it...
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Old 18 Nov 2007, 14:24 (Ref:2070220)   #2
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Originally Posted by kurtiejjj
Whatever happened to the Sierra Gravett in the 1991 BTCC? It was supertouring spec wasn't it? I am quite sure there was a second sierra racing at the time, however I don't know who drove it...
If it's just the 4-door Sapphire bodyshell you're interested in there were three examples built to 2-litre regs for the BTCC.

The first was the Rouse-built car run in 1990 by Ray Bellm and occasionally Chris Hodgetts. This re-appeared at Snetterton in 93 for Jim Wheals, who then sold it on to Bob Berridge who raced it in the second half of the season.

The second was the 1991 RobbGravett Trakstar/Shell car you're interested in. It was intended as part of a 2-car effort, the second never appeared. Think the driver for the second car might have been intended as Sean Walker- from memory he appeared in qualifying at one round in a 'restricted' RS500 but didn't start. Don't know what happened to the car subsequently.

The third was Dave Brodie's car which appeared sporadically from mid-season in 1991. I won't swear to this, but it might have been 4X4? I'm think I also remember seeing it in a saloon/GT race in at least one of the end of season Brands Hatch winter club meetings, with an RS500 engine. Brodie might have raced it subsequently in that form.

Dave Pinkney entered a Sapphire in 1992, but this never raced- it appeared at the British GP meeting but never ran- it apparently turned up without the engine, which wasn't prepared in time.
According to the Touring Car Year annual for that year, it may have been the ex-Brodie chassis (at least the book describes it as being bought from Brodie) and apparently was intended to use a V6 engine rather than the 4-cylinder..

There were a couple of 3-door Sierras run in 2-litre form in the BTCC- a Grahame Goode-run car for Andy Middlehurst in 1991, and long-time BTCC privateer Dennis Leech's black & orange car in 92- Leech had appeared in a few early-season 1991 rounds in a restricted RS500.

Think I've got photos somewhere of the Gravett and Middlehurst cars, and possibly Brodie's- I'll see what I can find

Last edited by KA; 18 Nov 2007 at 14:31.
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Old 18 Nov 2007, 14:52 (Ref:2070232)   #3
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I don't have any of my pics from that season scanned, but Peter Still's website came to the rescue with pics from the same 1991 Brand Hatch BTCC round:

Gravett 1991 Brands Hatch
http://www.stillphotography.co.uk/ga...91_07.jpg.html

Brodie 1991 Brands Hatch- think this was the debut for the car
http://www.stillphotography.co.uk/ga...91_12.jpg.html

Andy Middlehurst's 3-door- again same Brands meeting
http://www.stillphotography.co.uk/ga...91_20.jpg.html

Last edited by KA; 18 Nov 2007 at 14:55.
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Old 18 Nov 2007, 20:34 (Ref:2070422)   #4
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From memory, the Trakstar car experimented heavily with locations of engine / gearbox, but what was good in theory didn't work out in practice. I've got a programme from a '91 Brands Hatch round that has a big feature on the car - I'll try and find it and post some relevant info.
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Old 18 Nov 2007, 21:59 (Ref:2070444)   #5
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That is already some stunning information! :thumbsup:

What I still don't quite grasp was 1991 already a fulll supertouring year or more a transitional year?

E.g. how much BHP would these sierra/Sapphires have had? 270? 280BHP?

Come to think of there is another photo of gravett in a different livery than the shell one on the web somewhere.
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Old 18 Nov 2007, 23:31 (Ref:2070490)   #6
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1990 was the transitional year. Gravett won that in an RS500, so he carried the #1, but BMW and Vauxhall had a years development headstart. '91 was purely 2l.

According to the article I have the car didn't turn a wheel until practice for the first race at Silverstone, they couldn't get it to "steer, handle, or react to suspension alterations". Then later on it says the team is concentrating on getting more top end power out of the n/a unit, as the head was designed for the turbo unit.

There were plans to get Mike Smith out in a second car for the next round (Silverstone again, the Brands round was late June), but i don't know if that happened.

Andy Middlehurst in his Sierra was slightly quicker than RG in practice, but I don't have him listed as finishing the race - RG classified 9th (18 entrants, I only have 9 finishers written in, but there may have been more).

There's no reference in the article to the gearbox location - I must have read that somewhere else.
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Old 19 Nov 2007, 15:14 (Ref:2070944)   #7
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1990 was the transitional year. Gravett won that in an RS500, so he carried the #1, but BMW and Vauxhall had a years development headstart. '91 was purely 2l.

According to the article I have the car didn't turn a wheel until practice for the first race at Silverstone, they couldn't get it to "steer, handle, or react to suspension alterations". Then later on it says the team is concentrating on getting more top end power out of the n/a unit, as the head was designed for the turbo unit.

There's no reference in the article to the gearbox location - I must have read that somewhere else.
Tim- I definitely remembered the design being pretty radical in terms of engine/gearbox location as well. A quick Google turned up some references to the car in a piece about Gravett which fit what you're suggesting:

http://www.supertouring.co.uk/driver..._gravett2.html

I have a vague memory that the senior engineer or designer responsible for either the original design, or re-engineering it mid-season may have come from a rallying background, but can't think where I've got that from?

The same site turns up some more pics, including the original Rouse Sapphire from 1990:
http://www.supertouring.co.uk/galler...ntrants_2.html
Berridge in the same car in 93,
http://www.supertouring.co.uk/galler...ntrants_5.html

and more of the Brodie
http://www.supertouring.co.uk/galler...ntrants_3.html
and Gravett cars
http://www.supertouring.co.uk/galler..._entrants.html

Last edited by KA; 19 Nov 2007 at 15:22.
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Old 19 Nov 2007, 16:03 (Ref:2070988)   #8
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Originally Posted by KA
...I have a vague memory that the senior engineer or designer responsible for either the original design, or re-engineering it mid-season may have come from a rallying background, but can't think where I've got that from?
IIRC the engineer's name was Alan Wilkinson (?) who I think had some connection with Ford Motorsport.
Also IIRC, initially the car ran a strange sort of combined gearbox/rear axle (transaxle) with a strangely numerically low final drive ratio. Something to do with reducing frictional losses due to the mechanical gearing reduction.
I also seem to remember that this was the component that usually failed! Other (more conventially engineered) Sierra's didn't have these problems.
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Old 19 Nov 2007, 18:30 (Ref:2071092)   #9
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IIRC the engineer's name was Alan Wilkinson (?) who I think had some connection with Ford Motorsport.
Also IIRC, initially the car ran a strange sort of combined gearbox/rear axle (transaxle) with a strangely numerically low final drive ratio. Something to do with reducing frictional losses due to the mechanical gearing reduction.
I also seem to remember that this was the component that usually failed! Other (more conventially engineered) Sierra's didn't have these problems.
that name definitely rings a bell- he was ex-Ford and Mitsubishi amongst others I think. I'm pretty sure you're right about the transaxle as well
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Old 21 Nov 2007, 13:55 (Ref:2072534)   #10
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Correct Mike Smith did have something to do with Trackstar but i thought he had something to do with running it. I could be wrong but he was defo involved somewhere along the line. Also Sean Walker did drive for them i can certainly remember him driving the Rs500 think that must of been in 88 or 89 not sure about the saphire.
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Old 21 Nov 2007, 15:58 (Ref:2072619)   #11
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So can anyone remember why the project was pulled at the end of '91?

I recall there was a lot of 'Shell' on the cars (cracking livery IIRC) and I'd guess Ford must have been thinking about backing the team but Robb cleared off to Peugeot and the team folded?

Malcolm Sweetnam ran it for them didn't he?
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Old 21 Nov 2007, 16:25 (Ref:2072641)   #12
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Originally Posted by The Shrew
Correct Mike Smith did have something to do with Trackstar but i thought he had something to do with running it. I could be wrong but he was defo involved somewhere along the line. Also Sean Walker did drive for them i can certainly remember him driving the Rs500 think that must of been in 88 or 89 not sure about the saphire.
Mike Smith & Robb Gravett were the two trackstar drivers, running ex-Dick Johnson RS500's in the BTCC. Apparently, due to lack of budget, they could only afford to run the one normally aspirated car for Gravett, although it was always the plan to get Smithy out in a second car later in the year once the additional budget had been secured. (Which never materialised, or it was spent sorting all the problems out with the first car!).
Sean Walker raced an RS500 for two BTCC seasons. In 1989 the car was run by Graham Goode Racing (co-driven by Damon Hill at the two driver Donington round). In 1990, Sean Walker ran an Andy Rouse run car.
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Old 22 Nov 2007, 07:36 (Ref:2073212)   #13
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chavez should be qualifying in the top 5 on the gridchavez should be qualifying in the top 5 on the gridchavez should be qualifying in the top 5 on the grid
The Middlehurst car was competitive on occasions.
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Old 22 Nov 2007, 08:03 (Ref:2073236)   #14
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Originally Posted by chavez
The Middlehurst car was competitive on occasions.
Despite a very small budget, it finished higher in the championship than the heavily financed Trackstar car...
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Old 23 Nov 2007, 12:49 (Ref:2074170)   #15
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I think aswell that the Trackstar effort was running some weord stuff with a rear mounted gearbox if I rememebr rightly.

I think they were still running Mountune engines but obviously without a turbo.

Gravett got a few podiums I reckon in the car but as people say Middlehurst went very well in his car and the only thing I rememebr Berridge doing is getting in the way in a=race from 93 or summat round Brands!
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