During 1979 Ford Competitions at Boreham determined the specification for a package deal that was offered to existing Escort competitors and new entrants to the 1980 Debenhams Ford Fiesta Challenge Championship, which took over where the Escorts had left off. In the same week as the final round of the Faberge Fiesta Ladies Challenge, the prototype 1.6 litre car, reg no. GNO 878T was seen in testing at a wet Brands Hatch in the hands of Gordon Bruce. One young man who was doing rather well in Mini's, by the name of Steve Soper, was interested enough to join the series. Soper's Mk.1 Fiesta, backed by Silvershield Windscreens, became the standard to which all other competitors had to rise and he won the 1980 championship. Steve Soper creditably admits that this was the start of his professional career and the Fiesta was the first rung on the ladder to success in a variety of fully sponsored rides.
The Fiesta kit offered by Boreham was essentially Ford Advanced Vehicle Operations (AVO) "X-pack" derived and consisted of a glazed, wired and partially trimmed Fiesta 1300 Supersport bodyshell, a package of running gear and components, and the already homologated for motor sport 1600 Federal spec engine that had been in production for the American Fiesta.
Unfortunately one of the major elements necessary to put the kit on the track was the hardware package, i.e. the nuts and bolts, which regrettably were not available with the major components. As the Fiesta was still early in its competition life, it proved virtually impossible for competitors to obtain the appropriate Ford nuts and bolts through the dealer network and this meant that at the first race there were only 11 cars on the grid!!
Similarly, a random specification appears to have been chosen in terms of recommended spring and shock absorber combinations to suit the car and the Dunlop race tires that were a carry over from the Escort programme. It very soon became obvious that cars were quite liable to end their race days on their roofs.
These sorts of pressures meant that there was little growth in enthusiasm for the Debenhams Ford Fiesta Championship during 1980 and at the end of the year Ford seriously considered dropping the Championship from the '81 calendar.
However, Ford had identified that this "grass roots" activity was of particular value in building their motor sport image and loyalty, and thus hired Stuart McCrudden to examine and prepare a "How To" plan to expand both the Championship and its public awareness. McCrudden visited the last two events of the '80 season, speaking to the drivers, and at the last round he called a meeting to identify the competitors' interests, needs, demands, and ambitions. It was clear from this analysis that some form of start money was necessary as well as a better set of technical specifications, making the cars competitive, but more reliable and more stable. The powers that be thought this a worthwhile exercise and sanctioned the re-styling of the Fiesta Championship. Stuart McCrudden's agency was hired to co-ordinate the entire Championship and find some sponsorship money and / or exposure value.
So here begins the story of the Fiesta Championship in all its various guises.
Race 1 Snetterton (Good Friday) April 4: Throughout the 10 lap race Jim Edwards, Roger Jones and Steve Soper disputed the lead, with Edwards eventually breaking away at mid distance to win. This left Jones and Soper to fight with Chris Knight who came up to join the leaders and in doing so set the fastest race lap of 1min26.5sec (79.78 mph). At the end Edwards won in a time of 14min 45.8sec (77.91 mph), with Roger Jones second, Chris Knight third and Steve Soper fourth.
Round 2 Castle Combe (Easter Monday) April 7: In a 10 lap race that Motoring News called "a thriller", 3 drivers fought for the lead throughout. Steve Soper, Dave Loundon and Steve Taylor were covered by only one second as the flag fell! As they finished, Soper's winning time was 13 mins 44.6sec (80.32 mph), with Loundon second and Taylor third. Soper shared the fastest race lap with Taylor, 1min 20.1sec (79.78 mph).
Round 3 Brands Hatch May 5: The Brands short circuit provided Jim Edwards with win number 2 in a race time of 9min 17.3 sec (71.25 mph) for the 9 lap race. David Grimshaw finished second with G. Marshall third and Chris Knight fourth. Winner Edwards shared the fastest lap with Chris Knight and D. Hulme, 59.8sec (72.46 mph).
Round 4 Oulton Park May 25: Steve Soper scored a "flag to flag" race win when the Debenhams Championship visited the Cheshire circuit.
Round 5 Oulton Park June 28:
Round 6 Brands Hatch July 27:
The 1980 Debenhams Ford Fiesta Championship Positions: 1st: Steve Soper 2nd: Jim Edwards 3rd: Chris Knight
1981 was the year that Renault first launched the start money battle, and in a blaze of PR, their own one-make series which started to attract enormous publicity. Popular Motoring, the successful magazine from EMAP group, agreed to get involved with the Fiesta Championship, guaranteeing publicity and putting up a decent prize fund. A new set of technical specifications were established, with Boreham's Bill Mead and Terry Bradley working out and testing a decent suspension package which the series had lacked from the start. A limited level of start money for the second season saw somewhat more interest being shown by the clubman with a dozen regular runners taking to the track and there were also several 2-car teams.
In fact this period was the rebirth of the Fiesta Championship and established a level of growth that was to culminate some six or seven years later with upwards of 60 registered competitors participating in the 1988 season providing two races at most meetings.
One of the most spectacular accidents of the season happened at Snetterton on the first lap of the first meeting, when George Turton attempted to get over both track fences at the Russell Chicane, spinning first into the pit barrier and then finally into the banking on the outside of the track. Shocked, but unhurt, Turton re-built his car and went on to have an enjoyable season's racing.
'81 Popular Motoring Fiesta Championship Positions: 1st: Rob Hall 2nd: Charles Tippett 3rd: Jim Edwards 4th: David Grimshaw
Overseas races had been a highlight in the Escort Championships of the '70s, and in 1982 the Fiesta's visited Zolder in Belgium, Zandvoort in The Netherlands, and the new Nurburgring in Germany.
For the 1982 season, the Daily Mirror was co-opted to bring publicity to the Championship on a national basis, with the Champion receiving a brand new XR2. There was also backing from Kamasa Tools for the best-prepared car, in theory at each round the entrant with the best-prepared car won a box of Kamasa tools. These incentives immediately uplifted the club championship into the realms of a money-earning proposition, and as such the season had 46 registered competitors.
The "quick list" included a young man called Lionel Abbott. In his first season in motorsport, he entered the series in a brand new XR2, the first new ex-showroom car to be used, prepared by his brother Ed, who was a development engineer at Jaguar. Lionel worked for Whitley Garage Ford Main Dealer in Coventry, and they agreed to sponsor the car for the brothers. Formula Ford specialist Minister built the engine, and Ed reckons it "was a good engine throughout the year".
Their first victory came in round 6 at the new Nurburgring in Germany and they outscored all competitors thereafter, finishing as runners up in the Championship.
Also committed to the series and in the reckoning were Graham Churchill from Silverstone, Martin Sharpe, Dave Londoun, Stuart Cole, Richard Stoodley and Rob Hall from Stafford in his Supersport. Churchill and Sharpe bought a new XR2 each and delivered them to Gerry Marshall Racing and Roger Dowson, who ran them both for the season. Tyres were Pirelli.
1982 Daily Mirror Ford Fiesta Challenge Positions: 1st: Rob Hall 2nd: Lionel Abbott 3rd: Charles Tippett
For 1983 it was clearly evident that to match the competition from Renault and Metros, the Ford series would need a major sponsor to put up an adequate fiscal budget to support start money campaigns. Various potential sources were investigated and a finance house confirmed that they wished to participate in the series and really put a strong marketing effort behind the event. However, when Ford was notified of this proposal it was determined that this entity clashed with Ford Credit, the Ford finance operation that provides funds for dealer stocking and hire purchase clients. Ford Credit was looking at ways of raising its profile, particularly through the dealer network and at the same time providing a national publicity opportunity for dealers. Ford Credit had an astute Marketing Manager in David Button, who immediately realised the potential of this association, thus Ford Credit agreed to enhance the Motorsport budget and this brought start money and adequate funding to the series for the first time. The series was very popular and grids of 30-35 cars were not uncommon. Ford Credit also developed a vehicle livery kit, with windscreen strip and liveried number panels, which brought about professional styling for the cars, the simple logo legend carrying the message tidily through with excellent results in national, regional, and local press.
This relationship with Ford Credit also encouraged features in point of sale and general promotional activities, thus bringing the much needed national exposure and recognition for the Championship. The Fiesta Challenge featured in a support race for the European Grand Prix at Brands Hatch. The Shell Oils Saloon Car Pursuit Race featured 4 teams made up from Fiesta Challenge, Renault 5 Challenge, Toyota Corollas, and Minis. Star names included Sir Jack Brabham in a Fiesta XR2, and Tony Pond & Richard Longman in Minis.
Graham Churchill's early results: Brands Hatch 6th place, Thruxton 2nd, Zolder 4th, Castle Combe 2nd.
For the '83 season Dave Loundon bought the Abbott's '82 car and he went on to win the Championship.
1983 Ford Motor Credit Fiesta Challenge Positions: 1st: Dave Loundon 2nd: Stuart Cole 3rd: Charles Tippett
With grids growing year on year, the stability of the formula was clearly evident in 1984 with 38 registered competitors. This was also the year the Championship was introduced to the Mk 2 Fiesta body style with the CVH engine and a 5 speed gearbox, although the exterior body trim, wheelarch extensions and mouldings unique to the XR2 could not be fitted until it was released for sale in Britain. These cars raced alongside the original version before taking over completely in 1985.
The change to the Mk 2 bodyshell also brought slight suspension changes which all needed a certain amount of dialling in and Ed and Lionel Abbott spent a lot of time at Snetterton setting the car up so that Ford could offer a good package for competitors to ensure there would be no grumbling between the entrants of the old Kent engined cars and the new CVH engined cars. Eventually some ballasting was employed to equalise the performance of the two types of Fiesta.
The high profile of the '84 season was probably due to the commitment by Radio 1 DJ Mike Smith who had been enticed back into motor sport with the backing of Ilford Photos. Smithy's car ran with an engine prepared by Minister and was owned by Stuart McCrudden who brought in Ed and Lionel Abbott (who were not at that time competing themselves) to test drive and develop the car to make it competitive for Mike. Smith's season brought national press for the Fiesta Championship, with his car featuring on the stand at the Racing Car Show, Motorfair, and in extensive Ilford inspired publicity. Ilford ran a best photo competition, and at each race track created an exclusive area for photographers to snap Mike Smith in the Ilford Photos sponsored Fiesta. The best photograph of the season won the lucky snapper a brand new car. All the major competitors in the photo competition were assembled to receive their prizes at a dinner dance in December at the Royal Kensington Gardens Hotel. This was a very popular event, and of course one where Mike Smith could rise to his true claim to fame, that being an entertainer and speaker!
First race of season at Brands Hatch saw
Donington Park April 8th: A dull day with a slightly damp track. Graham Churchill wins the round in his Aldon engined car, closely followed into second place by Ian Briggs, with Mike Smith coming home in eighth.
A battle royale took place at Zolder between Smith and Ian Briggs, resulting in a win for the Reading Newsagent.
At the Nurburgring Smith came home clearly ahead of the field, and emotional scenes followed when the popular DJ received an enormous cup with the British National Anthem playing in front of a crowd of 40,000.
Smith won five rounds outright and ended up 5th overall in the Championship despite not being able to contest all rounds due to a heavy broadcast schedule. However Lionel Abbott, having been a front runner in '83, won two of the '84 rounds and teamed up for the sprint and long distance races with Mike Smith and they won all of those.
1984 Ford Credit Fiesta Challenge Positions: 1st: Ian Briggs 2nd: Robin Parsons 3rd: Brian Farminer 4th: Mike McInerney 5th: Mike Smith 6th: Stuart Cole
For 1985 Motorcraft, the Ford-brand parts operation, sponsored an XR2 to be driven by several media celebrities, one of the ways in which publicity for the series was stimulated. Celebrities included ???????
Former single seater and rally driver Barrie (Whizzo) Williams is well known throughout the motorsport world
'85 Championship Positions: 1st: Barrie (Whizzo) Williams 2nd: Graham Hathaway 3rd: Ian Briggs
In 1986 the Championship saw
'86 Championship Positions: 1st: Barrie Williams 2nd: Robin Parsons 3rd: Matt Johnson.
In 1987 the Championship featured a race at the Halfords Birmingham Super Prix meeting running on the city centre streets and televised live on TV.
Graham Churchill remembers that "The Birmingham Super Prix Meeting was difficult as there was no testing available, and we went straight out to qualify. There were a lot of blind corners with Armco everywhere, and advertising banners tied to the Armco on the faster corners were being shredded with cars passing so close. Interesting!!".
Brian Farminer won the Super Prix, with 2nd place going to
This season also featured a 100-mile event at Oulton Park, which was won by Graham Churchill with Paul Taft as the second driver. Brian Farminer was not so lucky, breaking his gear lever on the first lap!
In 1987 Martin Sharpe, Dick Richards and Graham Churchill bought a new Fiesta shell from Ford. The building and running of this car started off Mardi Gras Motorsport (a combination of their three Christian names!) and they went on to win the 1987 Fiesta Championship.
The battle for the Championship went literally to the wire and was eventually won by Churchill in his Komatsu sponsored XR2, after a season long battle with Brian Farminer in the Hendy Lennox sponsored car from Southampton.
Farminer had won 5 events during the year, but his overall points tally was just one adrift, with Churchill stealing the one point advantage on the last lap of the last race at Donington to give him the title!
'87 Championship Positions: 1st: Graham Churchill 2nd: Brian Farminer 3rd:
1988 and compensation for Portsmouth marine engineer Brian Farminer when he won the series after five years of trying and took home the trophy, the cheque and a brand new "Celebration" model XR2, provided by Ford Credit to mark their 25th Anniversary. The car was collected at the Birmingham Motor Show. Also in '88 Matthew Neal was to get his first taste of motor racing starting out in the Fiesta Championship. With very large grids, some rounds had to run qualifying races.
'88 Championship Positions: 1st: Brian Farminer 2nd: Ian Briggs 3rd: Colin Stancombe
For 1989, the new XR2i became the chosen vehicle, with backing from another Ford subdivision, Ford Audio, and the series became known as the Ford Audio Fiesta Trophy. Many regulars switched to the new car and the series continued with unabated vigour with races televised on satellite TV for the first time. Those who wanted to go on racing the older cars were catered for by the St Helens XR2 championship, a good form of lower-budget competition.
'89 Championship Positions: 1st: James Kaye 2nd: Ian Briggs 3rd: Jim Smith 4th: Matthew Neal
1990 Ford Audio Fiesta Trophy action continues and Norman Grimshaw had a huge accident at Thruxton. Ian Briggs won the Zandvoort round with Brian Farminer second (having started from the back of the grid).
'90 Championship Positions: 1st: Ian Briggs 2nd: Colin Stancombe 3rd: Brian Farminer
1991: Entering it's eleventh year the series was run by the BRSCC with Ford Audio.
Round 2 Round 6 Donington July 6/7: Brian Farminer forced his way up from the third row of the grid to lead the race at Redgate. Ian Briggs slotted into second, leaving Stancombe, May and Grimes fighting for third. May grabbed third at McLeans on lap four, as it became obvious Stancombe had a problem. May's race was soon run however, retiring to the pits at a drastically reduce pace. With the laps running out, Briggs was all over Farminer but the door was kept shut. Grimes was now heading the rest, with Glenn Eagling well in contention. On the penultimate lap Briggs went into Redgate alongside the leader, as the leader held his line Briggs went into the gravel and out of the race. Grimes held on to second, with Mike Ireland in third following Eagling's mechanical failure at the Old Hairpin. Marco Del Pizzo inherited fourth at the flag, from Tunney and Thwaites.
Round 7 Ingliston July 20/21: This round looked quite promising, but most of the real action took place in the lower half of the field. Up front, Ian Briggs, Brian Farminer and Colin Stancombe were close together in the opening laps, but the gaps between them gradually increased to the point where there were eleven seconds covering them by the flag. Trevor Reeves and Kevin May, on the other hand, finished almost together after May absolutely flew round Arena and very nearly into Reeves' tailgate. Mike Ireland, third from the back after lap one, had a merry time slicing his way through the field to complete the top six.
Round 8 Lydden Hill August 4: Karl Jones made the best start but appeared to miss a gear at the Elbow on lap five, which put Ian Briggs at the front where he stayed throughout. Stancombe and Jones were next from Ray Tunney, but Ray Grimes provided most of the interest. After being punted off at the first corner he resumed last, to finally finish eighth out of sixteen, conducting nearly the entire race's overtaking moves in the process. Ian Briggs crossed the line first, though post race scrutineering revealed a problem over the legality of Briggs' car. The matter of the winner's legality was being discussed long after the last race of the day was over, but Briggs eventually lost his position and was excluded from the results.
Round 9 Mallory Park September 1: The top four raced as they qualified. Brian Farminer, Ray Grimes, Kelvin May and Colin Stancombe followed each other round without ever looking like changing order. It was more exciting behind though as Trevor Reeves spun out after contact with Karl Jones exiting the Esses for the first time. Jones survived to spin in Gerards after which Marco Del Pizzo established himself clear of a pack of five cars. Steven Phillips battled his way to the head of the pack and took fifth ahead of Ian Guest when Del Pizzo retired on lap eight.
Round 10 Silverstone September 7: Brian Farminer scored his second win in six days. Karl Jones led the early laps with Farminer, Paul Tarry and Stancombe tucked in behind. After some side by side motoring Farminer eventually slipped ahead of Jones as they braked for Copse on lap six. Jones looked set to re-challenge but a couple of grassy moments on the exit of Luffield lost him a few metres to Farminer. Jones then came under pressure in the closing laps from Tarry and Stancombe but the places remained unchanged. Michael Ireland dived inside Ray Grimes at Brooklands on the last lap for fifth while John Wadsworth did well to reach seventh after starting near the back of the grid.
Round 11 Cadwell Park October 6: The big upset in the race was that neither Farminer nor Jones won. As was the norm, the pair monopolised the front row and got off to a good start. However a coming together halfway round the first lap saw Farminer down to fourth and Jones out of the top ten. Stancombe took over at the front from John Wadsworth. Farminer made it up to third but couldn't progress further; similarly Jones fought his way through to seventh before running out of steam.
Round 12 Brands Hatch Formula Ford Festival October 25/26/27: The Fiestas went to Brands Hatch with a title to decide, Brian Farminer having a single point advantage before the final. Stancombe was quickest away from the outside of the front row, leaving Farminer and Jones to fight it out. They closed right up together when Stancombe made a slight mistake at Druids on lap three, but the championship could have been decided at Clark Curve on lap five when Jones bundled Farminer onto the rough stuff. They lost touch with Stancombe, and Farminer eventually gave up his pursuit of Jones, who was in any case shown the black flag and disqualified. Behind the top trio, Steven Phillips won an intense duel with Steve Mills, and Marco Del Pizzo won an equally close contest for sixth against Neil Wood. Brian Farminer took the title, having got the one point he needed by getting fastest lap.
'91 Championship Positions: 1st: Brian Farminer 2nd: Colin Stancombe 3rd:
1992: The Ford Fiesta XR2i series seemed to have fallen into the shade slightly as far as public awareness was concerned, and with only 16 cars on the entry list for the first round at Thruxton things looked unlikely to turn around with any great rapidity. Nevertheless, there were some good old Fiesta campaigners back for another year, including reigning champion Brian Farminer and Colin Stancombe. Hopefully these two can provide some more thrilling action, as the ash blonde Essex preparation maestro attempts to wrest the crown away.
Alvin Heaton is the St Helens champ for older XR2s, so he should be in the reckoning, as will Ray Grimes and former rallycross man Trevor Reeves. Ray Tunney and Stephen Phillips have also appeared near the pace from time to time in seasons past.
Brands Hatch March 22
Oulton Park April 16/17
Donington April 25/26
'92 Championship Positions: 1st: Colin Stancombe 2nd: 3rd:
1993: 130bhp 1800 Zetec engines in use, and the first year that the Ford Credit Fiesta Challenge Championship enjoys a place on the supporting programme for the RAC British Touring Car Championship. Richard Kaye returns to racing after a two-year sabbatical and joins the Fiesta Championship. Also regularly notching up top ten finishes in his first season of racing, was former rally driver Shaun Woffinden.
Dunlop slick tyres used for the first time.
Heather Bailey became the first woman driver to win a Fiesta Championship race by leading the boys home at Oulton Park.
May Donington: Stancombe sets lap record 2m00.76s, 74.62mph/120.09kmh
Farminer had a heavy accident during September at Donington.
'93 Championship Positions: 1st Trevor Reeves 2nd: Colin Stancombe 3rd: Brian Farminer 4th: Richard Kaye
1994: Matt Johnson first sprang to prominence when he finished third in the 1986 Fiesta Challenge, before winning the Renault Clio series and a promising single seater career faltered through lack of funds. Now Matt was back in the Fiesta that took Trevor Reeves to the '93 title, and he started his comeback in the best possible way, by winning the first race at Thruxton. However, the opposition were determined to stop him running away with the title, and class experts and former champions Colin Stancombe and Brian Farminer headed the challenge, with Farminer feeling his way back in after a heavy accident the previous September. Farminer's team mate in the Duckhams Hendy Ford team is Karl Jones. Jones has raced in the BTCC before, but steps back to the Fiesta Challenge and joins Rob Hall and Richard Kaye as probable title contenders. Kaye rocked the establishment with his performances in '93, and his Goodliff Superteam entry will be bang on the pace from the outset. New stars moving into the Challenge for '94 included Gary Burridge, Gareth Downing, Jason Minshaw (of Demon Tweeks fame), Graham Jennings and double Olympic Gold Medal winner Decathlete Daley Thompson. Daley stepped up to the Fiesta Challenge for his second season in motor racing. With 26 RS1800s on the grid the season was a cracking one.
Round 1 Thruxton: While Matt Johnson romped to a lights-to-flag victory from pole position Rob Hall was extremely satisfied with his afternoon's work after a brilliant drive from 10th on the grid up to second place. The Goodliff Superteam cars of Kaye and Graham Jennings scooped 3rd overall and the first ever Young Driver Award respectively. Daley Thompson had a troubled time on his Fiesta debut, but put in an impressive performance aboard his DT Motorsport entry. After gearbox problems in qualifying left him in only 24th spot on the grid, Daley stormed up to 10th place by the second lap, but a clash with another car at the chicane left him with damaged suspension and no hope of continuing. Brian Farminer was also left on the side lines after a dramatic, and very destructive, roll out of the action.
Round 2 Brands Hatch: When Richard Kaye crossed the finish line first he ended an amazing five-year run of Fiesta Challenge victories at the Kent track by Colin Stancombe. "Well, I'm getting a bit old now, aren't I?!" joked runner-up Stancombe afterwards. "It won't happen again, though!" he added defiantly. After nearly clashing with Colin at the first corner, Kaye got his head down well to pull away from his pursuers bit by bit over the first half of the race, and also entertained the crowd by taking to the grass more often than the tarmac at the 100mph Surtees corner! Poor Daley Thompson, meanwhile, only managed to complete half a lap before being caught up in an incident which eliminated four cars from the fray: "My team mate Brian Ellis' car reared up onto two wheels and then slid along the track on its side," explained Daley. "We were all trying to take evasive action behind and I just caught the back of another car." Stancombe enjoyed close scraps with both Rob Hall and Matt Johnson during the course of his 18 laps, the latter following him home by just over a tenth of a second at the flag. Colin had to survive a wild ride over the infield at Surtees on his way to second, however: "There was so much junk and oil on the track after the first lap accident, and I slid off the track because of it. It was one of those '95% out of control mode' excursions, but I enjoyed it!" Scooping the Young Driver spoils was North West Motor Sport's Gareth Downing, the 22 year old coming home a fine seventh overall after shadowing the experienced Brian Farminer for most of the race.
Rounds 3 & 4 Snetterton: The top three results had a very similar feel to them, not only did they contain the same drivers, but in the end these men wound up in the same positions as well! The drivers concerned were, unsurprisingly, the three who now resided at the head of the points table - Matt Johnson, Richard Kaye and Rob Hall. Johnson's Soans of Leamington backed car was the one that scooped the top scores both times - a remarkable achievement considering an accident in practice had forced him to change the car's rear axle in double quick time. Whilst his first race victory was fairly straightforward, Monday's encounter actually saw Kaye cross the finish line ahead of Matt. Towards the end of what had been a classic scrap between these two, Richard dived down the inside of Matt into the tight Russell chicane and took the lead. Unfortunately, his manoeuvre had been so late, it meant that Kaye was forced to cut across the gravel on the inside of the corner. After a wild ride through the scenery, which bent his steering wheel, Kaye managed to keep control of the car and come back onto the circuit ahead of Johnson! The meeting officials had to dock him four seconds for missing out part of the track though and so Johnson was awarded the win. Young Driver Awards went to Downing in round 3 and Jennings in round 4.
Round 5 Silverstone National Circuit:
Round 6 Oulton Park: This round saw new season winners in both the overall results and the Young Drivers class, with The Tim Norton Motor Services backed car of Rob Hall finally making the winning breakthrough in the outright standings. The first win of the year in the Young Driver class for Minshaw came here at his home circuit, using his local knowledge to the full to finish fourth overall. Cornishman Graham Jennings was still leading the Young Driver series however, with his Goodliff Superteam car providing a very strong threat for Junior honours. The overall championship lead was also unaffected by the Oulton result, as Matt Johnson backed up his four wins with a strong second place, thus retaining his points advantage. The Ruislip driver was already showing the kind of consistency that leads to title wins, but he was not taking Hall's challenge lightly. Scoring his first podium finish of the year at Oulton was Ian Guest, a double celebration as this was his 30th birthday!! Also notching up his best result of the season to date was former rally driver Shaun Woffinden, who came home in 6th place.
Points after six rounds: 1. Matt Johnson 109 2. Rob Hall 82 3. Richard Kaye 78 4. Colin Stancombe 46 5. Brian Farminer 34 6. Karl Jones 30
Rounds 7 & 8 Donington:
Richard Kaye took 7 wins during the year, however by his own high standards, '92 champ Colin Stancombe had a disappointing year with new car problems giving a troubled year, and restricting him from posing a race-wining threat, the highlights being pole and 2nd place at Brands Hatch Indy in round 2.
'94 Championship Positions: 1st: Matt Johnson 2nd: Richard Kaye 3rd: Rob Hall 4th: Colin Stancombe
1995: With an average crowd attendance of over 30,000 per meeting as part of the TOCA package, making it one of the best-attended live-action events of the British sporting season, the Championship enjoyed good exposure. There were only FOUR different race winners in '94, three of whom have now moved up the saloon car racing ladder (Richard Kaye to BTCC in privateer Mondeo), however Rob Hall has stayed and a capacity entry of 35 cars meant this would be another classic year. Colin Stancombe was back for his 10th season, hopefully with the form that led to him winning the '92 Championship. Colin's team was running another three cars this year, and added an international flavour to the Challenge via the entry of 1994 Group N saloon car champion, Clas Esbjug. The young Norwegian set some highly impressive pre-season testing times. Clas' team mates were Fiesta returnees Tony Reeder and John Hartshorne. Another driver who tasted success in '94 was reigning Renault Clio Cup champion John Bintcliffe. The Yorkshire man was hoping to claim back-to-back saloon car titles, and was the class of the field through out the season in his Mobil 1 / Halfords sponsored car, giving Hall plenty to think about. Two men who also showed well during the later part of '94 were Jason Minshaw and Gary Burridge. Both were back for more and considered potential race winners from the outset. Another driver who can never be discounted is Fiesta stalwart and former champion Brian Farminer, whose Duckhams Team Hendy Ford entry will once again be in the thick of the action. Further likely front runners are Challenge regulars Mike Gorton, Pete Daniels, Mark Russell and Ray Tunney. Last year's Junior Award runner up, Downing, returns for another season in the division although he can expect stiff opposition from promising Cornishman Jennings, and Esbjug. The Ford Motorsport Celebrity Ladies' car was again a feature of the series, supporting the WOMAC and Macmillan Appeal charities. The driver for the opening two rounds at Donington was TV personality Jenny Hull from BBC's How Do They Do That?
Damon Hill's sister would also drive the car.
One of the most spectacular accidents of the season happened at Knockhill when Matthew Gillard from Birmingham had a spectacular barrel-roll, but he emerged unscathed.
1995 Championship Positions: 1st: John Bintcliffe 2nd: Rob Hall 3rd: Gareth Downing
1996: As the only one-make saloon car series on the high-octane BTCC raceday bill, the fast and furious Fiesta Championship was a sure-fire hit with both spectators and drivers alike.
Packed grids of more than 30 evenly matched Fiesta Classics always delivered superb entertainment, while the competitive on-track environment is the ideal breeding ground for the touring car stars of tomorrow. For proof, look no further than last years champion, John Bintcliffe - he's now a fully fledged member of the Super Touring ranks with his step up to the "works" Audi squad for '96.
This year's bumper-to-bumper Fiesta grid featured a host of young chargers all hoping to make a name for themselves in this fiercely-fought formula.
Those to watch included promising Scot Peter McLaren, MG graduate Daniel Eaves and regular front runner in '95 Jason Minshaw. In amongst the young "hot shots" were Fiesta stalwarts Colin Stancombe and Brian Farminer. Last season's top Junior, Downing, joined the BIM Motorsport team over the winter, (the team which took Bintcliffe to the title), and should be a front runner also. 22 year old Matthew Gillard is yet another of the "young guns" contesting this year's series. Matthew was going well last year until his spectacular barrel-roll at Knockhill shattered his confidence. "It was a huge accident which knocked the stuffing out of me," he recalls. "However, over the winter I sought some help and guidance from John Bintcliffe and I now feel really confident for the battles ahead. It's my ambition one day to be a touring car driver and without doubt the best way to achieve my goal is via victory in this season's Ford Credit Fiesta Championship."
One man setting his sights slightly lower was former Blue Peter presenter John Leslie who enjoyed a one-off outing in the Valvoline celebrity Fiesta in the Easter Monday season opener.
Round 1 Donington Park: The race was led from start to finish by Downing in the Mobil 1 / Halfords car, but this was no F1 walkover. The immediate pressure came from Mike Gorton in the MGA Motorsports car, who had a brilliant start to demote Ray Grimes to third. Grimes made a dramatic exit from the excitement on lap two, leaving Peter Sowerby and Mark Russell to pick up the pieces. Back at the front Downing was doing an impressive job pulling away from the pack, but in the end, the race was bought to a halt after a nasty collision between Daniel Eaves and Steven Stokoe.
Round 3 Brands Hatch: The race saw Downing and Russell squabbling for the lead through Paddock, with Downing emerging in front and quickly pulling away to lead the field home. It was further back that the fire-works began with a four-car battle, swelling to five with the arrival of Stancombe. Contact was inevitable, and on the last time round Druids the fighters clashed. Remarkably they all finished and made it out for the next race.
Round 4: was much the same as three, but this time the accidents were bigger, with a three car pile up stopping the race. The result was decided on an aggregate score and a re-started 12 lap event. After a long day a result was reached, and subsequently Downing was penalised for an incident at Clearways.
Round Thruxton: The championship witnessed a new winner when Graham Jennings took his maiden victory of the season. The race was aborted first time round when Samantha Wicks stacked her car in the Complex. The restart saw Minshaw take the bit between his teeth, and was followed by Jennings and Gary Burridge with pole man Downing in fourth. Minshaw soon had his lead quashed and Jennings squeezed passed to take his well-deserved first win of the year. This victory saw Jennings take the lead in the championship.
Round 6 Oulton Park: This race also saw another new winner, and the battles continued with the first corner claiming three of the front runners, Russell, Downing, and Minshaw. While this was going on Tim Hood found himself in front of the feuding pack, but was soon over hauled by Ray Grimes on lap two, and was sidelined with engine problems a lap later. Lap four saw eventual winner Mike Gorton take control of the pack while his pursuers battled it out behind for the remainder of the race. Downing's return to form came at the second of the two rounds at Snetterton. After crashing heavily at Corum in the first race he managed to finish third in race two behind the double winner Tony Reeder, and Mark Upton.
At the next round at Brands Hatch, Downing was back to winning ways, leading the field home on the Grand Prix circuit.
The next meeting was the double header at Knockhill in Scotland. This was the first time that Graham Jennings had bagged the quickest time in qualifying, allowing him to control the race from the front with only Jason Minshaw giving him any worries around the twisty highland track. The chasing pack, including Downing, Daniel Eaves and Peter Sowerby, battled with each other for the full 16 laps, with positions changing lap by lap and the eventual third place man, Downing, back in seventh at one point. With Jennings leading the field home and Minshaw in second, the chasing pack finished with Sowerby and Downing 3rd and 4th respectively and Ray Grimes and Tony Reeder completing the top six. The second race of the day saw the field start in their finishing positions from the first race, giving Jennings the opportunity to score a one-two for the weekend, but on lap 11 his Fiesta crawled to a halt and retirement, and with Downing leaving the action when he went straight on at the hairpin, Minshaw was given a trouble free race to victory, with Sowerby busy in second fending off challenges from Reeder. Mike Gorton finished in fourth with Mark Upton in fifth -who was later excluded from the results for a fire extinguisher infringement, promoting Stephen Stokoe to fifth.
Round Oulton Park: This was probably the closest round of the season yet. Eight cars were left looking for replacement panels after a first lap incident that saw the race red flagged. At the re-start, only 7 cars started. Downing was the man of the meeting with a qualifying lap that saw him a full half a second quicker than his rivals and was quickly converted into a race win that saw him close the gap to within 12 points of Championship leader Jennings who had followed him home in second. Rounds Thruxton: Once again it was Downing who led the way with a start to flag victory, made even better by Jennings having head gasket problems and dropping out of the points. The second race welcomed the eighth new winner this season, in the shape of Peter Sowerby who had driven superbly to pass Downing. Second place was enough though to move Downing to the top of the Championship table.
With the championship still to play for, the cars headed to Donington for the final rounds. Proceedings were halted prematurely by BBC Top Gear presenter Steve Berry; who managed to roll the Valvoline sponsored celebrity car through the Craner curves. The red flag gave a second win of the year to Mike Gorton.
Meanwhile the two title leaders, Downing and Jennings, were inseparable but the latter just got the upper hand to finish sixth, with Downing seventh. With two points separating them, the final round was always going to be frantic and Downing would have preferred not to have argued with the stewards before the start. He eventually started from pole and promptly disappeared into the sunset. Behind him Jennings was trying hard to keep up but collected Sowerby and finished in the tyre wall. Downing went on to win the race and the Championship.
1996 Championship Positions: 1st: Gareth Downing
2nd: Graham Jennings
3rd: Jason Minshaw.
2000 Ford Credit Fiesta Zetec Championship:A host of exciting changes will preserve the Ford Credit Fiesta Zetec Championships reputation for providing a cauldron of bumper-to-bumper, high thrills racing as it prepares for its 21st anniversary celebrations.
The Ford Fiesta Zetec is retained as the Championships base car but will be updated to incorporate the fresh Fiesta "face" introduced to great acclaim last October.
Competitors can expect to receive the update kit, which also includes a revised engine electronic system, free of charge as part of the continued commitment Ford is extending to its supermini racing series.
A brand new package to assist privateer runners, the Independent Racers Challenge, will ensure the series remains the most cost-effective way to compete on the TOCA package.
The new initiative, which will see Challenge competitors racing for their own points, prize money and an opportunity to test drive a Ford Mondeo BTCC car, is designed to restrict competitor running costs by providing a minimum of six technical working areas at each race, negating the need for lesser funded entrants to purchase transporters and awnings. Testing and tyre use will also be limited while a virtual on registration fees and a new staggered registration payment system are also being introduced.
The introduction of a second night race event has seen the creation of a Night Race Trophy. The driver scoring the most championship points in the two races will receive a special award and a cash bonus.
Ford Credit Fiesta Zetec competitors will also bid for the Fiesta section of the inaugural Ford Support Races Triple Crown which takes in races at Brands Hatch, Knockhill and Mondello Park, while a Teams Cup is also up for grabs.
Round 1 April 9 Brands Hatch: Gordon Shedden drove an inspired race to open his 2000 season in the curtain raising Fiesta race.
Fastest in qualifying, the Scot leapt into the lead and then fought with Nick Beaumont and Gareth Howell while the canny Colin Stancombe kept a watching brief.
Beaumont briefly muscled past at the end of lap three, only to see Howell swoop past both him and Shedden going into Paddock Hill Bend. Shedden quickly redressed the situation and though he was never headed, it wasn’t through lack of trying. Beaumont retook second from Howell on lap seven.
Howell dropped all four wheels off the track at Stirlings on lap 10, he and Stancombe slipping just far enough back not to be a threat to Shedden and Beaumont, who were split by just 0.15s at the flag.
Round 2: report to follow
Round 3: report to follow
Round 4: report to follow
Round 5: report to follow
Round 6: report to follow
Round 7: report to follow
Round 8: report to follow
Round 9 Snetterton Sat 8th July 2000: Veteran racer Colin Stancombe starts from pole position after finishing quickest in qualifying.
Stancombe, who celebrates his 52nd birthday on 9th July 2000, knocked championship leader Gordon Shedden off the top spot
Colin Stancombe made pole count to celebrate his 52nd birthday with his first championship win of the season. Championship leader Gordon Shedden led at quarter distance but was edged out of a podium place by Stancombe, Gareth Howell and Matt Pinny.
Round 10: report to follow
1979 Faberge Ladies Championship:1st: Guenda Eadie Points 2nd: 3rd:
The 1980 Championship:1st: Steve Soper Points 2nd: Jim Edwards 3rd: Chris Knight
'81 Championship: 1st: Rob Hall 122 Points 2nd: Charles Tippett 104 3rd: Jim Edwards 98 4th: David Grimshaw
'82 Championship: 1st: Rob Hall 130 2nd: Lionel Abbott 115 3rd: Charles Tippett 110
'83 Championship: 1st: Dave Loundon 147 2nd: Stuart Cole 76 3rd: Charles Tippett 76
'84 Championship: 1st: Ian Briggs 90 2nd: Robin Parsons 79 3rd: Brian Farminer 72 4th: Mike McInerney 69 5th: Mike Smith 68 6th: Stuart Cole 60
'85 Championship: 1st: Barrie (Whizzo) Williams 112 2nd: Graham Hathaway 101 3rd: Ian Briggs 99 4th:
'86 Championship: 1st: Barrie Williams 128 2nd: Robin Parsons 98 3rd: Matt Johnson 4th: 5th: 6th:
'87 Championship: 1st: Graham Churchill 2nd: Brian Farminer 3rd:
'88 Championship: 1st: Brian Farminer 126 2nd: Ian Briggs 105 3rd: Colin Stancombe 72
'89 Championship: 1st: James Kaye 135 2nd: Ian Briggs 105 3rd: Jim Smith 75 4th: Matthew Neal
'90 Championship: 1st: Ian Briggs 138 2nd: Colin Stancombe 135 3rd: Brian Farminer 121
'91 Championship: 1st: Brian Farminer 105 2nd: Colin Stancombe 104 3rd:
'92 Championship: 1st: Colin Stancombe 2nd: 3rd: Brian Farminer
'93 Championship: 1st: Trevor Reeves 227 2nd: Colin Stancombe 221 3rd: Brian Farminer 151 4th: Richard Kaye 130
'94 Championship: 1st: Matt Johnson 228 2nd: Richard Kaye 216 3rd: Rob Hall 169 4th: Colin Stancombe 104
'95 Championship: 1st: John Bintcliffe 119 2nd: Rob Hall 117 3rd: Gareth Downing 98
'96 Championship: 1st: Gareth Downing 124 2nd: Graham Jennings 110 3rd: Jason Minshaw 101
'97 Championship: 1st: Graham Jennings 221 points
2: Gareth Downing 209 3: Sowerby 174 4: Alan Morrison 154 5: Clarke 138
6: Colin Stancombe 137
'98 Championship: 1st:
'99 Championship: 1st:
2000 Championship: 1st:
2001 Championship: 1st:
More information / photographs from: Richard Rodgers, Ford Racing, Tel: 01277 253642. E-mail: email@example.com
Site created 1 Jan 2000.
Last updated 09 July 2000