The Securicor Sierra Challenge rally series from 1986 was Ford’s attempt to keep the RS Cosworth version in the news. But did it work?
Production of the Sierra RS Cosworth took a long time to set up in 1985 and 1986, so to keep the pot boiling, Ford promoted a one-model rally series for the cars in the UK in 1986. Seven cars — all from the original press/demonstration fleet were allocated to selected RS dealers, with a six-event programme lined up. Securicor, newly in the mobile phone business, came on board as sponsors.
In the end, the overseas event (Ypres) was cancelled because homologation was delayed, though three cars then competed in the RAC rally as Group B machines. Development was constrained by very strict regulations, (Group A-Minus, as one entrant described the cars), so engines had only about 280-300 bhp, the standard Borg Warner gearbox was retained, and there was a real scramble to get roll cages and suitable exhaust systems to make the cars reliable and safe.
Some dealers were more serious/capable than others, the most successful being Brooklyn Ford/Phil Collins, and Peacocks/Chris Mellors. Early problems included fragile rear axles, and an epidemic of blown head gaskets, but all seven cars (the ‘Magnificent Seven’, Ford called them) completed their season. As expected, traction on loose-surface stages was a problem, but the cars were very fast on tarmac. Phil Collins took second overall on the Manx National of the year, which made every other rally fan sit up and take notice.
This was a one-season wonder, however, for Securicor took its sponsorship money elsewhere for 1988.
All seven cars went on to better and higher things — some even as fully-developed Group A cars — and one or two survive to this day.
Words Graham Robson
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