1993 – A New Era in the European Rallycross Championship

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Martin Schanche 19931993 Was a new era in rallycross, it sadly marked the end of the redundant Group B rally cars in international competition and the arrival of the Group A specials. With the arrival of the new cars came the inevitable teething problems experienced by most debuting a new car. From the Ford RS200, appeared a flurry of Escort Cosworths and the chunky Metro 6R4 were reborn as the desirable Nissan Sunny GTi-R. With the unfortunate cancellation of Lydden, the championship began in Austria in mid-April but the field was somewhat depleted as several cars were not ready for competition, including British favourite and 1992 European champion, Will Gollop, plus Pat Doran, Pekka Rantanen, Michael Jernberg, Martin Iversen and Bengt Wiklund were all absent. However, five-times European champion Martin Schanche was there and it looked as if he would bag the first round with his new Escort Cosworth Xtrac, until Swede Kenneth Hansen had other ideas and passed Martin on the second lap for victory. Barry Squibb flew the flag for Britain with a fine 4th placing after winning the 'B' Final, on a track he had never seen before! In Division One Richard Hutton was clearly in a class of his own and was on course for victory until he drifted wide in the final with all four wheels off and was controversially black flagged, handing the win to Anders Norstedt in the Nissan Sunny GTi-R. The event also marked the first appearance of fourth placeman home, Vidar Christensen, a Norwegian Escort Cosworth driver with many years rallying and rallycross experience under his belt. Gollop ceremoniously entered the fray in Portugal with a spectacular roll in practice having suffered throttle lag problems and was still 6th in the final behind Schanche, who crashed into the banking. Gollop had already backed off as the oil temperature on the Silkolene Peugeot 309 rose disturbingly. Pallier won the event, while Squibb qualified on the front of the 'B' Final but failed to take up his position with clutch problems. Hutton got it all right in Division One to take a resounding victory in the final, while Norstedt was 5th ahead of new arrival on the scene, Dutchman Jos Kuypers in yet another Escort. Barry Squibb 1993Pat Doran brought out the new Panasonic Batteries Escort Cosworth in France and the big man from Kent was joined by Martin Iversen in a similar car and Bengt Wiklund in a home-brewed Nissan Sunny GTi-R. Gollop and Squibb were both sidelined in practice with engine failures. Per Eklund won the 'B' Final in the Camel Subaru Legacy and then finished 4th behind Pat Doran who made it onto the podium in his first event. Hutton was again dominant in the Group N class, while Tony Bardy scored a 'B' Final win with his Snap-On Nissan Sunny GTi-R. Gollop managed to pull out all the stops to change the engine in his Peugeot for Ireland and won the 'B' Final and then took a fine 3rd in the 'A' race. At the top of the leader board Pailler and Kristoffersson were arguing the odds. Hutton could only make it to 4th in Ireland, having won the 'B' race with ease over Rob Coates, the latter making an excellent European debut with his Nissan, while Bardy and Nick Jones set the pace in the 'C' Final. Schanche was having a real run of bad luck, engine dramas costing him the first heat in Sweden and a lot of sleep to rebuild it. Then in the second run, the engine seized a piston and snapped a road and that was the end of Schanche. Gollop too, was having as little luck, the Peugeot expiring in a huge sheet of flame as his engine disintegrated in the third heat. The time-consuming and costly rebuilds were to keep both out of Finland. Squibb, meanwhile, made it to 3rd in the 'B' Final and Michael Jernberg followed Hansen and Kristoffersson home for a superb 3rd placing in his first four-wheel drive outing with his Mk5 Escort. Eklund was 4th ahead of Doran. Hutton succumbed to gearbox troubles during qualifying for Division One but made it to the 'A' Final and took 4th place, while Norstedt was 6th behind Pekka Rantanen. Doran won the 'B' Final in Finland as Kernberg and Squibb indulged in a massive accident from which Squibb lost out badly. Kristoffersson won the 'A' Final ahead of Eklund, having his best result to date and Doran again made it to the podium with a 3rd place. Hutton too was suffering at the hands of lady luck, the Slider 200 Escort puncturing a tyre whilst leading the 'A' Final with two laps to go. Nevertheless, the Essex driver still finished 3rd behind Ludvig Hunsbedt and Norstedt. Christensen was still classified 6th despite rolling his Escort into a ball of scrap on the first corner. Per Eklund 1993There was a five week break before the European Championship resumed for the 7th round at Arendonk in Belgium. It was here that Schanche finally won the day with the Shell Escort over Hansen and Eklund. Gollop and Doran could only make the 'C' Final, which the former won and Squibb had to suffice with 2nd in the 'B' Final. Hutton chalked up another victory over Hunsbedt and Norstedt, as the European Championship moved on the following weekend to Valkenswaard in Holland. Doran had a nightmare of a weekend in Holland, his car being wrecked in practice by an errant Group N Saab which tripped up the Panasonic Batteries Escort with devastating results and much hard work to right the car. A 'C' Final 2nd place was the best result he could achieve under the circumstances. Gollop again made it to the rostrum with 3rd ahead of John Cross who put on a fine performance in the Autocross Fiesta 4x4. Squibb, who started off from his first ever row 'A' Final start, ended the day in hospital after a broken exhaust pumped carbon monoxide into the cockpit and he passed out during the race, which ended with him still in 5th place! In the atrociously wet conditions, Hutton did not finish. He had no traction, no vision and almost no car as he ended the race in the wall but still classified 5th. The penultimate round of the series was in Norway where a recovered Squibb won the 'C' Final despite engine problems, while Eklund won the 'B' Final, ahead of Squibb and Gollop, whose main shaft in the gearbox gave up. Doran was again top Brit with 5th in the 'A' Final, Eklund having scored 3rd overall behind Hansen and Pailler. Schanche had more problems with a broken rear differential in the second runs and Hutton was the bridesmaid in Group N. And so to the final round in Germany where not a lot went right for our intrepid British heroes! Doran had an almightily coming together with Iversen in the 'B' Final, the aberrant Norwegian sending the Englishman half rolling into the banking. A very disgruntled Pat was left totally downhearted despite sympathy from all around him. Gollop too ended the meeting with broken suspension after a clash with Jernberg. Meanwhile in the Eklund camp, there were celebrations galore as the former rally driver scored his first win in the series. Pailler, who finished 2nd, was crowned champion and Schanche finally got back onto the podium with 3rd. Certainly not the best year for British participants, Hutton apart! If you have any images from this race then please email us at info@classiccarmag.net,.Tags:, ,