RS2000 Kit Car
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Although the RS2000 was Eric Mauffreyoriginally homologated in 1992, Group A versions didn’t appear on the stages until some two years later. Gordon Spooner Engineering had been tasked with developing the car in 1993, but it was some time before they were ready to put them to use.

The regulations for Formula 2 cars were strict, meaning they didn’t look too far removed from their showroom cousins. The body shell looked predominantly standard from the outside, with slightly flared wheel arches to allow for tyre clearance. The headlamps from the Group A Escort Cosworth were borrowed, but, apart from a few modifications for jacking points and things, the Escort retained Gwyndaf Evansmost of its factory looks. The shell itself had received significant modification however; body panels were lighter than standard items, and suspension pick up points had been beefed up. There was a welded in roll cage which, although pretty tame by today’s standards, still went through to link all four suspension turrets. Inside, a few interior panels were borrowed from the Group A Cosworth, with a few more customised dash parts. All the standard refinements were gone of course, so it was as spartan inside as you’d expect from a competition car, with only a trimmed down dash, bucket seats, and the internally mounted fuel system to keep you company. Very few internal components were shared with the road car, with pedals, gear stick, steering column, dash panels and instruments all being replaced with upgraded or lightweight items.

Group A MK5Mechanically, the Group A car was totally different to its road going relation. At the rear, the standard trailing beam was soon upgraded. Although some alternative and modified variations of the original design were homologated; Group A RS2000s were fitted with an independent, semi-trailing arm, arrangement, along with an adjustable anti-roll bar, similar to that of the Cosworth Group A. Rear brakes were upgraded, with floating disks and twin piston callipers, with hydraulic operation of the handbrake. The front suspension was also heavily revised. The adjustable top mounts were Group A Cosworth items, and the cast front upright assemblies were also replaced with alloy items to reduce weight and give bigger bearing sizes. The standard, very weak, suspension arms were binned in favour of alloy track control arms (built to the same spec as the Escort World Rally Car). These used a fabricated steel compression strut, again like the Cosworth. The front subframe was completely Daniel Alonsobespoke, with an adjustable roll bar now mounted directly to the chassis. Steering was made quicker than the production car also. The front brakes were, again, upgraded; featuring 300mm disks for gravel use, and monstrous 355mm disks, with six piston callipers available for tarmac rounds. Wheel size was specified at 15” on gravel, and 17” on tarmac.

Moving onto the oily bits themselves, the five speed MTX75 transmission was removed and replaced with a six speed unit. An H-pattern option from Quaife Engineering was offered, but the majority of cars were fitted with the sequential unit supplied by Xtrac. Ford were the first to perfect the sequential transmission in an F2 car, meaning they rarely suffered the issues that often plagued the other teams.

M LuiseThe engine was supplied by Mountune Racing of Essex, and was a revised version of the 2.0, 150PS, unit fitted in the road car. Group A regulations meant that the factory type inlet and exhaust manifolds had to remain in place but, internally, the engine could be modified further. The standard crankshaft was retained for strength, albeit after some additional balancing. Connecting rods also remained standard, but the pistons were replaced with Omega items, giving much higher compression. The cylinder head was worked, but regulations meant the standard valve sizes had to be used. Camshafts were also changed, and the standard engine management ditched in favour of a GEMS unit, though this was later replaced with a Pectel T6 system. All this meant a quoted power output of 230bhp at 7200rpm initially, though this was later dropped to a more conservative 214bhp, still almost Escort70bhp up on the standard unit.

These cars first hit the stages in 1994, for a limited number of rounds across Europe, with much of the driving done by Eric Mauffrey and renowned Ford test driver, Gwyndaf Evans. The pair drove two RS2000s on the 1994 Manx International Rally, the final round of the British championship, an event which would decide the fate of the potential 1995 season entry. Evans excelled, tussling for the F2 lead, until a broken subframe caused retirement. A further entry onto the 1994 RAC saw Evans take the first F2 win for the new car, a feat he was to repeat in 1995, after coming second in the British series to Alister McRae, taking a win on the Isle of Man along the way.

Guy Woodcock1996 saw development of the car continue, along with a new look to bring it into line with the newly released road going Escort. The more rounded bumpers were fitted, along with the revised bonnet and grill. There was also a new set of single headlight masks to complete the look. 1996 was to be a good year for the Escort, with Gwyndaf Evans still in the hot seat in Britain, now joined by rising Finnish star, Jarmo Kytolehto, Yorkshireman Neil Simpson and, 1995 ladies champion, Stephanie Simmonite. The car won four out of five of the British championship rounds, giving Gwyndaf Evans his first outright British title, and marking the RS2000s most successful rallying year in Britain. However, despite this success, the first Escort Kit Car had already been homologated, so there were big changes to come.