Scanning through the entry list of this year’s 2009 Western Australian Targa West tarmac rally, I was pleased to see no fewer than 5 Mk1 Ford Escorts entered in the classic competition category. Having owned and competed in this legendary marque, I can’t help but admire the tenacity and dedication of the owners and drivers who continue to prepare and race these magnificent vehicles.
Since their release in 1968, the Mk1 escort has consistently featured in Rally competition around the globe. For almost 7 years after it’s release, the MK1 Escort dominated the international rally scene, finally passing on the mantle to it’s equally dominant Mk2 successor.
Even today the Mk1 Escort is a popular choice for young drivers entering Motorsport. Many famous rally legends have made their start in an Escort. The late Colin McRae campaigned escorts for many years, no doubt influenced by his Father, 5 times British Champion Jimmy who can still be found campaigning Escorts in the Historic competitions around Europe.
Another extremely talented McRae in the shape of Alister will be competing in this year’s Targa West in a Ralliart prepared Mitsubishi Lancer EVO 10 in the modern competition category. Alister dominated last year’s Classic category in a Porsche 911, I’m predicting he’ll be extremely hard to beat.
Having competed for the last 2 years in this event, I’ll welcome the opportunity to take a step back and soak in the spectacle from a spectator’s perspective. While enjoying the event from the confines of a TVR powered Triumph TR8, I always had one eye firmly fixed on the Mk1 Escort Mexico’s and RS2000’s in the stages & service parks.
I’ll be watching Alister’s performance at the pointy end of the field with interest, but my heart will be well and truly fixed back in the classic competition category, where the spine tingling throaty roar of twin weber adorned Mk1 Escorts in full cry will truly be a sight to behold.
Alan Blackmore is a business owner, motor sport enthusiast and diehard Ford Mk1 Escort fan.