"An excellent read." – Fleet Car
"The rallies themselves take up about 70 pages of the book, which has plenty of good good colour photos right through it. Robson has produced another good book in Veloce Rally Giants series." – New Zealand Classic Car
Classic Ford, December 2008Old Stager, December 2008
A brilliant road car but an even better rally car, the works Escort Cosworth (later Escort WRC) is celebrated in this book by 'Classic Ford'-contributor, Graham Robson. Covering its design, development and career as a rally tool coverage of the people involved, and all the important events the cars competed on, it's packed with great pictures and is well worth putting on your Christmas wish list.
The author's usual in-depth analysis describes the genesis of the RS Cosworth and the subsequent 'stopgap' design World Rally Car Escorts well as providing a detailed history of the car's rallying careers. Interesting to learn that the 'ACE,' project– a mule which married the shortened 4x4 Sierra Cosworth platform with a modified MKIII RS Escort shell – was up and running even before the Sierra Cosworth 4x4 was on sale. The whole project had been kick-started at a meeting in 1988 between Stuart Turner, Peter Ashcroft, Mike Moreton and John Wheeler. As Robson explains. the RS Cosworth was a rally car that was put into production, rather than a road car which happened to be good at competition. Ford had originally planned to produce 5000 as required by the regulations at the time. However, by 1991 the requirements had been halved to 2500 units and the assembly contract went to Karmann ... in the end, 7145 were produced from 1992 to January 1996. The personalities involved all come under Robson's no-nonsense spotlight. Despite all of the upheavals, Malcolm Wilson's M-sport managed to build two reliable newly-designed cars in a couple of months for the 1997 Monte and almost managed a fairy tale result. Sainz finished runner-up behind the works Subaru lmpreza of Piero Liatti. As with the rest of this 'Rally Giants' series, the book is packed with photographs – many from the Ford Archives as well as Martin Holmes' personal archive – with plenty of photos of personalities
Australian Classic Car, January 2009
BOOK OF THE MONTH
In his ‘Rally Giants’ series, Graham Robson aims to describe the shift in motor sport from reliability trials to the modern idea of road rallying. Today’s rally vehicles are engineered and driven with a focus on speed and strength first, and reliability second. They are high performance machines – with road-going homologation specials built pretty much as an afterthought to comply with regulations – not existing road cars tuned to stay the distance. Events are composed of a series of shorter intense races on closed road special stages instead of one long distance to endure over public roads. Robson’s series approaches these changes through the development and competition histories of milestone vehicles, like the Ford Escort RS Cosworth in this book. By the late 1980s, Ford Motorsport (FM) was faced with the erosion of Ford’s competition status since the 1970s, an era dominated by the successes of the Escort Mk1 and 2. The RS200 had been too little, too late to stop the slide against Audi, Toyota, Subaru and Mitsubishi, Fiat, Peugeot and Lancia. The Sierra had looked promising but was too bulky and heavy to continue as it was. It was critical that the new Cosworth succeed. Not only had Ford been the only British make consistently at the top level of world motor spot but it had also consistently made its technology and developments available to private buyers. This fact brings Robson to point out why new rally and race cars are important at all. The release of their homologation models affects car buyers’ expectations and thus, other manufacturers. Customers learn quickly what is possible from one year to the next, and expect to be able to buy it. For example, once 4-wheel-drive was accepted in rally cars after the Audi Quattro’s precedent, it was adopted for the Sierra Cosworth and refined in the lighter, nimbler RS to create the rallying breakthrough Ford needed. Car showrooms consequently began to reflect these changes. Stuart Turner, director of FM at the outset of the project, and his team had all agreed that their next rally car had to be based on an existing mainstream model. “Why don’t we see if we can take the platform and running gear from a Sierra Cosworth 4x4, shorten it, then see if an Escort body will fit on it?” This line of development was more or less followed. The RS was 4½ years in the making, under four different directors, but it was worth it. In 1993, its first year, it won five World Championship rallies. Readers will gain insight into Ford’s engineering methods and enjoy reading about the Ford Motorsport design team’s dynamics – the members really did work together. As one person’s idea was pursued, problems naturally emerged which other members would solve. Later chapters in the book explain the need to develop a World Rally Car, and the changes required to turn the Cosworth into that car. Photo buffs will relish the color images in the ‘Rally Years’ section taken on location across Europe, Africa and Asia – wherever the RS was competing. Personally, I liked reading the collection of biographies of engineers, rally drivers and other influential people in the Cosworth’s development. Among many team drivers taking the RS Cosworth to victory, Carlos Sainz was a standout, driving during 1996, a top year for the RS. An early driver worth getting to know was Francois Delacourt, and dashing, talented Ari Vatanen is regarded as a true enthusiast’s hero.