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Austin Rover "Rally Sprint" Rally Drivers v Grand Prix Drivers.

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  • Jeff Turbo
    That's excellent work there john

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  • John C
    Further update from the above gentleman:

    "The 1982 Rallysprint video is live now (link below). 1982 Austin Rover Rallysprint

    Speedstars 82 will be on the channel in a few weeks' time. "

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  • John C
    Subject: 1982 Austin Rover Rallysprint

    This is a message from VHSRallies at TenTenths Motorsport Forum ( ). The TenTenths Motorsport Forum owners cannot accept any responsibility for the contents of the email.

    To email VHSRallies, you can use this online form:


    This is the message:

    Hi John,

    Hope you don't mind the cold-call email but I was doing a lot of digging today around the Austin Rover Rallysprints and you seem to have been doing the same yourself - albeit about eight years ago! I found a very informative thread fed by you on the Montego/Maestro owners club forum but I can't post there because I'm not a member and don't own either vehicle. Go figure.

    You may not be aware of the VHS Rallies project. I'm trying to track down old VHS tapes of rally footage - almost all of it recorded off TV in the 1980s - and preserve it. Some of it gets shared on my YouTube channel ( but I also return MP4s to the original tape suppliers. We've found some absolute gems so far.

    Anyway, I thought you might like to know that there was indeed a 1982 Rallysprint at Donington which ran alongside the 1982 Esgair Dafydd Rallysprint. Or rather, Esgair Dafydd was much earlier in the year - I'm thinking April time, because it was shown on Grandstand on 3 May 1982. Others have uploaded footage from that event on YouTube and conditions appear very dry and dusty.

    The Donington Park event took place, I believe, on Saturday 23 October 1982. That's because I've recently discovered a copy of Autosport dated the 28th October 1982 which has a report on the event in there - so it would have been the previous weekend.

    I can confirm that the drivers competing were Keke Rosberg, John Watson, Nigel Mansell, Derek Daly, Stig Blomqvist, Pentti Airikkala, Terry Kaby and Tony Pond.

    The cars used for the autotest were Triumph Acclaims. The cars used for the circuit race were MG Metros.

    The rally cars used were a Vauxhall Chevette HSR (XEG 550X, the same car Russell Brookes used to win the 1983 Circuit of Ireland) and a Talbot Sunbeam Lotus (a car used by Guy Frequelin on the 1981 RAC Rally, PVC 999W).

    The final results were Pond 1st, Blomqvist 2nd, Airikkala 3rd - comprehensive whitewash for the rally boys.

    Intriguingly, though, the commentary makes reference to how a third rally car had been meant to be used - a Lancia Stratos. But Murray Walker says that Derek Daly drowned the engine three times in the car so organisers gave up on it.

    This car *was* used, however, on an ADDITIONAL rallysprint event which took place on, I believe, the same day - or at least, the same weekend.

    Called Austin Rover Speedstars '82, it featured at least a few of the same roster as the main event - so Nigel Mansell, Tony Pond, Derek Daly and John Watson - but added competitors from additional disciplines: Derek Bell from sportscars, hotrod star Barry Lee, superkart driver Dave Buttigieg, speedway rider Tommy Knudsen, trials rider Mick Andrews and downhill skier/sometime F1 racer Divina Galica.

    Contestants completed a rallysprint (in which the same Chevette and Sunbeam were used, along with a Toyota Celica TwinCam, an Escort RS1800 and the aforementioned Stratos), a Metro race, a Metro autotest, a cycle race around the Donington circuit (!) and finally a motocross race in which Pond had a colossal crash and ended up in a heap on the ground.

    I have recently converted complete footage from both of these events and will be uploading it to my YouTube channel in due course. But the light/conditions look identical, making me think that Speedstars and the main Rallysprint were held on the same day.

    Anyway, just thought you might find this of interest and worthy of posting in the Montego/Maestro forum. Would you like me to send you a link to the YouTube vids when they go live?

    Kind regards,


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  • John C
    The Donington event WAS occurring in the same year as the Wales event:

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  • John C

    A brief mention of it here:
    "single stage 1978 Texaco Rally Sprint a staged for TV event run at at Esgair Dafydd, in Wales, won by Per Eklund in a later Triumph TR7 with Tony Pond coming second in the #6"

    The name 'Andy Dawson' also came up ref the Lancia Stratos:
    "In November 1978, as the works cars were being retired (new regulations had made them less competitive) Andy Dawson drove it to a last victory at
    the Rallysprint at Donington"

    Austin Rover appear to have at least sponsored 1 event prior to '83:

    The excellent racing of the AR Rally Sprints has stuck in the minds (or come to the notice) of many:
    even including people on the other side of the Atlantic or in Australia!
    Last edited by John C; 30th January 2012, 14:16.

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  • John C
    There are some images of the 84 and 85 programs on this webpage (and one image of the 83 event -probably captured from the BBC footage):

    There's also an article here where racing driver Mark Hales describes his (and Steve Soper's) work setting up the 85 Montego Turbos for the Rallysprint:
    Last edited by John C; 30th January 2012, 13:35.

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  • John C
    [I have heavily amended my 6th November 2011, 09:45 post above to reflect who was driving what etc. at the 'pre 1983' Rally Sprints (having watched all the videos very carefully)]

    Following on from my post above, I am slightly confused by Murray Walker's comment about Tony Pond:
    "First in the Donington Rally Sprint in 1980"

    at 8:35 in this video:
    The 1982 Welsh Rally Sprint (Part 2)

    because this implies that the Rallysprint/BBC/Murray event may NOT have changed from an Esgair Daffyd, Wales event into a Donington park event (as my theory above reflects) i.e. the Donington event existed alongside Wales.

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  • John C
    Apparently the annual Rally Sprint's occurring prior to '83 involved a variety of rally cars inc. a Toyota and a Talbot Sunbeam.

    i.e. it was '83 onwards that Austin Rover went from being just a sponsor (with their cars only involved by way of the race which used MG Metros) to taking over the whole event and supplying all the vehicles in it.
    Last edited by John C; 21st December 2011, 09:44.

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  • John C
    1979 [October/date unknown]
    Sponsor: Eaton's Yale Lift Trucks
    Venue: Originally thought to be Esgair Daffyd? (not sure if that's how you spell it), but now known to be Donington
    No video found, but there are numerous colour photos on p1874 of MOTORSPORT magazine (Dec '79 issue)
    Originally thought to be the first ever Rally Sprint, but now known to be the 2nd at Donington alone! Covered by TV -probably BBC TV/Murray Walker.
    Originally thought to have been won by Per Eklund in a Triumph TR7 [according to Murray's commentary on the '81 event!], but now known to have yielded the following results:

    Race: Triumph TR7s (1st: Jones, 2nd: Tambay)

    Rally: 1. Pond (Lotus Sunbeam), 2. ?, 3. ?, 4. Tambay (Ford Escort MKII), Position unknown: Jones (TR7 V8)

    1. Patrick Tambay
    2. John Taylor
    3. Per Eklund
    Other competitors: Ari Vatanen, John Watson, Jochen Mass, Alan Jones, Tony Pond

    1980 [month/day unknown]
    Venue: possibly Esgair Daffyd?
    The 1980 Welsh Rallysprint (Part 1)

    1st: Pentti Airikkala Vauxhall Chevette
    2nd: Per Eklund (Triumph TR7 V8 300 Bhp)
    Anders Kullang, Sweden (Opel Ascona 250 Bhp)
    Hannu Mikkola (Ford Escort MkII)
    Alan Carter, NZ (Toyota Celica)
    Stig Blomqvist (Saab Turbo 2.0 FWD)
    Jimmy McRae (Vauxhall Chevette)
    Russell Brookes (Talbot Sunbeam) 240 Bhp -Murray Walker estimates!)
    Malcolm Wilson (Ford Escort)
    Tim Brise and Tony Pond (crashed)

    N.B. In the AR Rally Sprint's '85 Racecard (program) where it lists previous event winners it quotes Tony Pond as the 1980 winner??

    1981 [month/day unknown]
    Pace Petroleum sponsored
    Venue: possibly Esgair Daffyd?
    1981 Welsh Rallysprint (Part 1)

    1981 Esgair Dafydd Welsh rallysprint

    1st Tony Pond (Vauxhall Chevette)
    2nd Henri Toivonent (Talbot Sunbeam)
    3rd Russell Brookes (Talbot Sunbeam)
    Tim Brise (Ford Escort)
    Andy Dawson (Lancia Stratos)
    Malcolm Patrick (Opel Ascona 400)
    Jimmy McRae (Opel Ascona)
    Per Eklund, Sweden (Toyota Celica)
    Pentti Airikkala (Ford Escort)

    1982 [month/day unknown]
    Pace Petroleum sponsored
    Venue: possibly Esgair Daffyd?
    The 1982 Welsh Rally Sprint (Part 2)

    1st Hannu Mikkola Audi Quattro (5cyl turbo 330 Bhp)
    2nd Russell Brookes (Chevette)
    3rd Terry Kaby (Vauxhall Chevette)
    Bjorn Waldegard (Lancia Stratos 2.4 V6)
    Russell Brookes (Vauxhall Chevette Blydenstein 240 Bhp)
    Stig Blomqvist (Talbot Lotus Sunbeam 240Bhp)
    Jimmy McRae (Opel Ascona 400)
    Per Eklund (Toyota Celica)
    Tony Pond (Rover SD1 290 Bhp)
    Venue 'Esgair Dafydd'

    [All cars except the 4x4 Audi were RWD]

    1983 Nov 5th
    Austin Rover sponsored
    Venue: Donington Park circuit
    BBC Rally Sprint 1983 part 1

    RallySprint Nigel Mansell [FULL]

    Nigel Mansell 1, Jimmy McRae 2, John Watson 3, Pentti Arrikala 4, Derek Warwick 5, Stig Blomqvist 6, Danny Sulivan 7, and Tony Pond 8.

    Rally: Rover SD1
    Autotest: MG Metro
    Race: MG Maestro 1600

    Cars built by: Austin Rover Motorsport

    1984 Oct 27th
    Austin Rover sponsored
    Venue: Donington Park circuit
    No video found

    Nigel Mansell 1, Michele Mouton 2, Martin Brundle 3, Marc Duez 4, Jimmy McRae 5, Keke Rosberg 6, Per Eklund 7 and John Watson 8.

    Rally: Rover SD1
    Autotest: Austin Metro
    Race: MG Montego 2.0 EFi

    Cars built by: "Austin Rover Motorsport" according to the scanned '84 Racecard. However, ARG Motorsport (ARGM) based at Cowley were primarily doing SD1s with TWR and the Metro 6R4, so John Dalton thinks that “Roger Dowson Engineering” may have have been contracted to build the ’83 & '84 Rally Sprint cars, on ARGM's behalf.

    1985 Nov 30th
    Austin Rover sponsored
    Venue: Donington Park circuit
    Austin Rover rally sprint 1985. Metro 6R4

    Nigel Mansell 1, Kalle Grundel 2, Juha Kankkunen 3, John Watson 4, Thiery Boutsen 5, Martin Brundle 6, Malcolm Wilson 7, and Stig Blomqvist 8.

    Rally: MG Metro 6R4
    Autotest: Rover 216 Vitesse
    Race: MG Montego Turbo

    Cars built by: Metro -works car. Rover 216 & Montegos -"Roger Dowson Engineering"

    Can anyone fill in any of the blanks above, please e.g. Was '85 the last of the Rally Sprints?
    Last edited by John C; 6th July 2014, 19:12.

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  • John C
    There's a load more info on the ARG Rally Sprints on this thread...

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  • John C
    -the scanned RACE CARD posted by EVO AL on 26th September 2009, 22:25 is from the 1983 Rally Sprint (using MG Maestro 1600s for the race)

    -the scanned article entitled MONTY'S REVENGE posted by EVO AL on 26th September 2009, 22:29 relates to the 1985 Rally Sprint (using MG Montego Turbos for the race)
    Last edited by John C; 23rd October 2011, 13:41.

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  • John C
    When considering the spec of the Maestros in this event the year before:

    Originally posted by John C View Post

    BBC Rally Sprint 1983 - Race
    [a thrilling MG Maestro 1600 race at Donington for celeb competition drivers inc. Mansell, Blomqvist, John Watson, Tony Pond, Derek Warwick etc. Part of the “Austin Rover Rally Sprint”])
    it is highly likely that they would have been modified in the same (or very similar) ways. The standard MG Maestro 1600 was quoted as 103 Bhp, but Murray Walker twice quotes in the commentary that the Maestros racing all had the 'the same 110 Bhp' (indicating that this wasn't a slip of the tongue -he must have been told this figure by Austin Rover).

    According to the article on the '83 Maestro race in the Autosport magazine 10 Nov ’83:
    Each car was identical in specification, the only concession to the circuit being the fitting of Michelin racers [presumably meaning ‘slick tyres’ -JC]. The engines were standard (“Don’t rev them above 6200rpm or they will go bang!”) but modified exhausts made the right noises.

    Looking at the photos in the above article, it appears that (from the head on shots) the cars have 2 identical seats with square head rests (silhouetted against the sky backdrop). They look pretty much like the standard headrests in this pic:

    It also appears from the photos that the cars are fitted with rear seats (can't tell if the parcel shelf is in), and a cage with a diagonal brace on the rearmost part of the cage (low on the LHS, high on the RHS). Could the cars have been allowed to run with standard seats (albeit with a 4-point harness fitted)?
    Last edited by John C; 16th November 2011, 18:54.

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  • John C
    According to the scanned 1984 Rally Sprint program above (Image 4 of 25 -the page entitled THE RALLYSPRINT CARS)
    All the cars are basically standard - the open exhausts possibly lifting power slightly over the catalogued 115 bhp of the torquey fuel-injected OHC engines. Austin Rover Motorsport have prepared the 8 cars to give equal performance, and to comply with normal circuit racing safety requirements - roll cages, fire extinguishers and 4-point seat harnesses. Other preparation details are confined to such items as competition dampers, brake pads and sparking plugs - to stand up to flat-out use around the demanding Donington track. Austin Rover's test drivers on the Montego preparation exercise were impressed by the ease with which this refined road car was turned into a surprisingly rapid circuit racer.

    According to the scanned article on the 1985 Rally Sprint by Mark Hales above, the brief for ROGER DOWSON ENGINEERING (who prepared the cars a year later) was to 'make sure they finished the race irrespective of what the drivers did to them'! The article goes on to detail the mods that were made to the Montegos as follows:
    bigger discs and calipers
    racing brake fluid
    uprated dampers
    extra engine breathers
    Last edited by John C; 23rd October 2011, 13:36.

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  • John C

    Has anyone got any info/program or photos from the Austin Rover Rally Sprints that used MG Maestros? I believe that it was only the 1983 event.

    I can only find the following on the '83 event:
    Last edited by John C; 25th October 2011, 17:26.

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  • Russ
    your very busy today Al! I take it in the 84 event the Late Great Tony Pond was doing the demo in the 6R4. A great loss when he died,never seemed to do that well on the RAC but always my favorite.

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