Stuart's 700 bhp Escort Cosworth gets the ChassisTech treatment

Stuart Day, runs Performance Cars at Popham, near Basingstoke, and knows a thing or two about high performance cars, especially Fords, and Cosworth Escorts in particular. Stuart has had a craving to own a World Rally Car spec Escort, having owned 11 Cosworth badged Fords over the years he reckons the Escort WRC version is the top of the tree. His current car was first built by none other than M-Sport under the guidance of Malcolm Wilson. It ended it WRC career was converted to right hand drive and painted bright red at DOME Motorsport, did a bit more privateer rallying and was then bought by Stuart as a trimmed shell.

The car was re-equipped with all the WRC spec parts that it should have and it took to the track. This is when the problems started... Rally cars, no matter how good they may be in the forest or on a tarmac stage, are just not built the same way as a proper race car. They have loads of suspension travel, and often upsetting bumpsteer designed in to unsettle the car leaving the driver to skilfully deal with the unexpected road conditions and changes in direction typical of a rally stage. Circuit racing is not so unexpected, each lap being similar to the previous one! What is needed is grip, and predictable grip at a far higher level than any rally car can provide.

A few more test days with some trial and error mods didn’t provide the answer, and a frustrated Stuart was looking for a solution, seeking advice from a number of sources. Some damper work found a small improvement, and a full car alignment gave another step in the right direction, making the car a bit more user friendly near the limit of adhesion. Then Stuart was pointed in our direction by John Cross of Cross Sport in Basingstoke. We have completed three race car projects with John now, so he is a useful ally.

Stuart asked us to have a quick look over the car and see if we could offer any help. Back at his Popham workshop we put it up on the ramp, and as the body was lifted on the wheel free ramp, the massive rear bump steer gave us some clues! The car is the full WRC spec and so has struts all round, not the normal rear end semi-trailing arms. Great for travel and jumping of Finland’s forest tracks, not so good for Brands Hatch’s smoother demands. However the suspension parts are very strong and well engineered, just in need of different parameters.

We did the full 3D suspension survey and provided a report with as much detail as possible about what the problems were and how to fix them. Stuart did everything that we advised, re-rated and shortened the Reiger dampers, moved suspension pick-up points, altered anti-roll bars... the lot. Then with a fresh 700bhp engine in place a test day was taken on. Initial results were impressive, the “lively” rear end was now planted, no wheel spin, just forward acceleration, and such lateral grip that my joke up front that he should be careful he didn’t smack his helmet on the driver’s side window as the turn-in would be impressive, turned into a reality as he did just that!

Fast Ford Magazine puts it brilliantly for us;

“The result is a car that handles like no other EsCos ever could, with a particularly planted rear end.”

Thanks chaps!

This bright red Escort is the cover feature car in the September 2011 issue of Fast Ford magazine, where Stuart gets the well deserved credit for his immaculately built and prepared car and we get a little plug too.

The 2012 Classic Thunder Series will be the place to watch this car perform along with a collection of other famous and monstrously powerful saloon cars, (more than one with our suspension designs on board!)