Ford Capri to FIA RS2600 Group 2 Specification
By the end of the 1960s Ford was pursuing a wide-ranging global competitions programme, and with its UK operation concentrating on developing the Escort for rallying and circuit racing, Jochen Neerpasch, head of the Motorsport Department in Cologne, was delegated to start work on the racing Capri. With the initial Capri having been released in 1969, a number of successes, including class wins, were achieved in international rallies in 1969 but it was already clear that the car’s greatest potential was as a circuit racer.
The model known as the ‘RS2600’, based on the 2600GT which was Ford of Germany’s top-of-the-range model at the time, first came out in 1970 and was heavily updated in September 1971. During the four years of production, only 3532 RS2600s were built and all were left hand drive. Featuring a new 2637cc version of the Cologne V6 built by Weslake with their aluminium heads, it became the platform for the coming success of the Motorsport Department. The revised RS2600 also featured a four speed close ratio gearbox, modified suspension, vented brake discs, lightweight body panels and aluminium wheels.
Under Group 2 regulations, the RS2600’s Weslake developed V6 was allowed to be bored out to a capacity of 2,900cc and it was equipped with Kugelfischer fuel injection and dry sump lubrication. In this form it developed in excess of 320bhp. The suspension, brakes and wheels were up-rated appropriately and the bodywork lightened by the extensive use of glassfibre panels. A ZF five-speed gearbox was utilised on the Group 2 RS2600. In January 1971, the homologation document 1609 was granted to Ford by the FIA for the RS2600 LW (lightweight), detailing the weight to be just 900kg. On the track, the lightweight RS2600 achieved great success entered by Ford Köln. In 1971, Dieter Glemser won the European Touring Car Championship in an RS2600 and this title was repeated in 1972 with Jochen Mass, with the double making for great advertising for Ford.
This car, originally a 1600GL finished in green, was bought by Ric Wood and has since been restored to 1972 RS2600 Group 2 specification. Ric, a well established touring car racer and engine builder set about the full restoration in around 2014. Starting with the shell, it was blasted before having any necessary repairs carried out and then seam welded to improve the torsional rigidity of the shell. A full and very well triangulated Roll Over Protection System was made and installed, using Cold Drawn Seamless Steel, with the main structure in large 45mm diameter tubing.
Bodywork was undertaken by Ric Wood’s in house bodyshop, with the round arch style of the works 1972 specification in fibreglass as detailed on the FIA homologation document 1609. Once the body work was completed, the Capri was painted in the very attractive red and white Grab livery which utilises the same basic design as the works cars, as was run in 1972 by a Capri RS2600 driven by Klaus Ludwig in the ETCC.
Once the paintwork was completed, the Capri underwent build in Ric Wood’s race shop. Gartrac supplied billet spindles and aluminium hubs with vented brake discs and AP 4 pot closed back callipers were fitted to the front, running with coil-over Proflex dampers mounted on adjustable top plates. On the rear, a floating Atlas type axle with ZF plate diff was fitted, held by a 4 link and Watts’ linkage set up. Bilstein coil-over dampers were fitted on the rear to control the movement of the axle and braking is taken care of by AP 4 pot closed back callipers and vented discs. A set of 16” BBS pattern Image split rims are fitted on the car, with four bolt fixing and running on Avon slicks.
A new Weslake V6 engine was built for the Capri by Ric Wood with Kugelfischer slide throttle injection, producing around 330hp. With the V6 running on dry sump lubrication, the oil tank was mounted neatly within the right hand front wing. The engine breaths through custom made mild steel exhaust primaries, feeding into a stainless system in a 6 into 2 into 1 format with a single silencer and oval side exit on the drivers side.
The engine was mated to a new and correct ZF 5 speed close ratio gearbox, as listed on the homologation document and run in period by the works cars. A bespoke aluminium radiator ducted from the front grille handles the cooling and is plumbed with black silicone hoses, contributing to the very clean and tidy feel of the engine bay.
In the cockpit, a Cobra Sebring Pro FIA race seat with side head protection, valid until 2020, and a TRS 5 point harness in black, also valid until 2020, hold the driver snugly in the LHD Capri. Great ergonomics are obvious with the steering wheel, gear lever and dashboard controls all in easy reach of the operator. Adjustment for varying heights of driver is also straightforward, thanks to the highly adaptable seat brackets. Fire safety is undertaken by a Lifeline Zero 2000 electronically operated system, mounted on the floor of the passenger side to keep weight low.
In the boot, a large and cleverly excecuted 80 litre fuel cell is mounted in the spare wheel well, extending down to just above the bottom of the rear axle, helping again to keep the weight positioned low.
Completed in 2015, the Capri was then run by Ric Wood at the 2015 Spa 6 Hours meeting in a combined race for Motor Racing Legends’ Historic Touring Cars, Masters 70s Celebration and DRM Klassik Pokal. The Capri finished 3rd in the Historic Touring Car class in the race with Ric Wood driving. After this outing at Spa, new style FIA HTPs were issued and dated 12/01/2016. The Capri was bought from Ric by the current owner at the beginning of 2016 and has remained in his collection.
Recently, a shake down at Donington Park took place with our own Ben Mitchell at the wheel, to test the Capri and understand that it is functioning correctly. Running on the National circuit, within a few laps a lap time of 1:18.4 was posted, very competitive when compared to the fastest Capri qualifying time at the 2017 Donington Historic Festival of 1:18.0. A1:18.4 would have been good enough for 5th overall and 2nd in class on the grid.
A couple of issues were highlighted in the shakedown, which have since been rectified with the rear axle being rebuilt, and the gearbox being checked over. The running weight of the Capri is c.980kgs, lighter than most which come in at around 1000kg, with the potential to go closer to the homologated minimum weight of 900kg.
As the Capri sits today, time on the engine is around 1 hour from new, gearbox is 0 hours, and rear axle has running in time only. Accompanied by its 2016 FIA HTPs, V5 registration document and number plates, the Capri is an ideal, fresh and fast choice for a wealth of racing across Europe including Motor Racing Legend’s Historic Touring Car Challenge, Peter Auto’s HTC, Tour Auto, Modena Cento Ore and more.