Rover's Vikingship The SD1 in motorsports


Rover's Vikingship

Motorsport is dangerous

front racer  (19,4 kB) One of the most interesting stories of the SD1 is it's racing history. It certainly wasn't the intention of Spen King and his team to get the SD1 raced. I mean......just look at the poor thing!!....It is big!, heavy, has a live axle instead of independent rear suspension. On paper this doesn't look like a good basis to start racing....But fortunately things never go as expected and so SD1 racing started off when the British Saloon Car Championship (BSCC) rules allowed cars of 3.5 litres to enter (was 3 litres). John Davenport (director of BL motorsports) approached David Price racing in 1979 to develop the SD1 for saloon car racing. Two cars were prepared based on experience with the TR8's. It was surprisingly easy to get the SD1's weight down to it's permitted class minimum (1130 kg or 2492 lbs) even kept the standard radio/cassette player.....Is racing really so easy you can listen to music???

The Triplex/Esso/Motor sponsored cars were quite succesful in their first year and were driven by Jeff Allam and Rex Greenslade. The people's first impressions on the car?...Long, Low and Loud!!!

front racer  (5,4 kB) The SD1 live axle set up gave good traction out of slow corners and proved superior to the Capri's crude semi-elleptic spring set up. Still the cars oversteered a lot. This oversteering was never solved succesfully. The race at Brands hatch was won as well as the Empire Trophy. And a 1-2 victory at Donington....not bad for a first year!

In 1981 Tom Walkinshaw Racing (TWR) took over from David Price. The days for the Ford Capris were counted as Rover gradually took over. The Rover's had a better torque to weight ratio (very important in racing) as well as more power and better suspension. Six of the eleven rounds were won in the BSCC. With four 1-2 victories)...Bye bye Capri..

1982...and things went even better with six victories and the class title in the BSCC. Oh...and if it wasn't enough....the French Saloon Car Championship was won by Rene Metge (Also very well known for his Paris-Dakar results with Landrover). It was mostly the Rover's reliability which gave Metge the victory. He scored points on 13 of the 15 races.
Rene Metge  (11,3 kB)
Rene Metge (left)
DTM 85  (11,0 kB) Things really started to gain momentum when the Vitesse was introduced to the tracks in 1983. The power of the tweaked V8 was a proud 290 bhp at 7000 rpm. The TWR team consisted of Jeff Allam, Peter Lovett and Frank Sytner. All three very skilled aces. Cooperation between the three (tactical wise) was minimal though, as there were no team orders. Oh...perhaps one...don't exchange the paintwork during the race.......1983 was also the start of some court hearings as Austin Rover was accused of breaching the regulations by using non standard Bahco valve rockers of ferro magnetic steel.....Phew, big deal you think!....But it resulted in the withdrawal of Austin Rover from the 1984 BSCC. At the continent however the cars still competed very succesfully in the European Touring Car Championship(ETC). For the european championship the cars had to be prepared even better. A typical BSCC race was a 20 laps the ETC was a 100!! Plus at least one crucial pit stop for refuelling. That the Rovers were suitable for prolonged periods of hard racing was proved by the 24 hrs of Francorchamps which eventually gave a 3rd place for the Vitesse

Results for 1983 Francorchamps

PositionDriversCarNr of Laps Average Speed (km/h)Gap
1.Tassin/Heyer/HanneBMW 635 CSI480--
2.Quester/Winkelkock/RossiBMW 635472136.6168 L
3.Lovet/AllamRover Vitesse468135.66812 L

In 1984 the BSCC overall was won by Andy Rouse (A private entry supported by Austin Rover). It was the first time a british big class car won the BSCC since 1958. For a complete list of BSCC class winners from 1970 to 1996 click here. On the continent Olaf Manthey gathered a 2nd place in the German touring car championship (DTM), the first place being for a BMW 635CSI driven by Volker Strycek. The BMW's proved to be a force to be reckoned with more and more because of their better brakes and handling. Coming out of corners,especially in the wet, the Rover's had better traction.

Final results 1984 DTM

Volker Strycek (D)Gubin-BMW 635 CSi155
Olaf Manthey (D)Nickel-Rover Vitesse147,5
Harald Grohs (D)Vogelsang-BMW 635 CSi147
Wilfried Vogt (D)Linder-BMW 323i146,5
Kurt König (D)Maass-BMW 635 CSI127
Manfred TrintFord Mustang114,5
Peter OberndorferAlfa Romeo GTV6103,5
Jürgen FrizscheOpel Kadett GTE87,5
Udo SchneiderBMW 635 CSi83,5
Leopold von BayernBMW 635 CSi72,5

1985 meant another 2nd place for Manthey in the DTM. The TWR Rovers had good results at Monza and Donington (scoring 1-2-3!!).The ETC championship was lost to Volvo however.

Final results 1985 DTM

Per Stureson (S)IPS-Volvo 240 Turbo117,5
Olaf Manthey (D)Nickel-Rover Vitesse100
Harald Grohs (D)Obermaier-BMW 635 CSi 96
Roland Asch (D)Ringshausen-Ford Mustang 94
Peter Oberndorfer (D)Marko-Alfa Romeo GTV6 90
Heinz-Friedrich PfeilVolvo 240 Turbo 88
Per-Gunnar AnderssonVolvo 240 Turbo 86
Peter JohnChevrolet Camaro 83,5
Volker StrycekBMW 635 CSi 80
Wilfried VogtBMW 323i 79

For 1986 more victories could be added to the list. Finally Rover became no. 1 in the DTM!! The Dane Kurt Thiim steered his car to victory in front of strong opposition from the Mercedeses and Beemer's. The Rover's were now equipped with the improved Twin plenum injection system wich cured the problem of poor throttle response at low speed. The SD1 went out of production in 1986 but the succes story still went on....although for a short period . The successor to the SD1, the Rover 800 series was unsuitable with its front-wheel drive and Honda V-6. There was a contract with TWR for 1987 but sadly Walkinshaw was paid off. The 1987 BSCC was won by a private entry, Tim Harvey. He had outright wins at Oulton, Silverstone and Brands Hatch.
front racer  (5,8 kB) Kurt Thiim

Final results 1986 DTM

Kurt Thiim (DK)Nickel-Rover Vitesse130
Volker Weidler (D)Marko-Mercedes 190E 2.3-16113
Kurt König (D)Maass-BMW 635 CSi104
Per Stureson (S)IPS-Volvo 240 Turbo102
Volker Strycek (D)Gubin-BMW 325i 89
Klaus NiedzwiedzFord Sierra XR4Ti 83
Anton GoeserBMW 635 CSi 76
Per-Gunnar AndersonVolvo 240 Turbo 75
Manuel ReuterFord Sierra XR4Ti 69
Fritz MüllerBMW 635 CSi 58

Winners DTM 1986

Race Driver car
Kurt Thiim (DK)
Per-Gunnar Andersson (S)
Volker Weidler (D)
Volker Weidler (D)
Klaus Niedzwiedz (D)
Kurt Thiim (DK)
Kurt Thiim (DK)
Kurt König (D)
Manuel Reuter (D)
Rover Vitesse
Volvo 240 Turbo
Mercedes 190E 2.3-16
Mercedes 190E 2.3-16
Ford Sierra XR4 Ti
Rover Vitesse
Rover Vitesse
BMW 635 CSi
Ford Sierra XR4 Ti

DTM 1986  (17,8 kB)




© rwp jan 2001