The 2 litre Touring Car formula created for the BTCC in 1990 produced a huge variety of different racing cars for 13 different manufacturers. However, they didn’t all make it onto the BTCC grid.
We’ve taken a look back at some of the ones that didn’t quite make it…
1995 Team Magic Mazda 323F
Mazda made their BTCC debut in 1992 with the 323F, driven by Patrick Watts. Between 1992 and 1994 Mazda’s works efforts in the BTCC were handled by Roger Dowson Engineering, a team with some useful experience within the series. A switch to the larger Xedos model in 1993 improved results, but a barren year in 1994 meant that Mazda withdrew their support. Expansion to a 2 car team and a collaberation with Team Dynamics didn’t work.
Matt Neal, who was driving for Mazda in 1994, had written off one of the team’s Xedos models in a terrifying barrel roll at Silverstone, which ended his season. Dowson, however, decided to extract all the salvagable parts from the written off car & use them to build up another 323F, which Matt Neal returned to race with at the TOCA Shootout in 1994, with poor results.
Dynamics went their own way for 1995, but Dowson was determined to get Mazda to return and decided to build another 323F, this time with to fit with the new regulations regarding aerodynamics allowed from 1995.The intention was to run Sweden’s Slim Borgudd in the car, running as “Team Magic”. The entry even appeared on the official entry list for 1995.
However, late on in the day, sponsors pulled out of the deal, which subsequently left the team with no budget and therefore couldn’t race the car. This led the team to look for a different driver to bring the funds to run the car, or to sell the car totally. Sadly, neither happened and the car was parked up and never raced in the BTCC. Before his death, Roger Dowson claimed to be convinced that would have been a race winner and argued that it was the finest car developed by the company, despite never racing in period.
1998 RouseSport Toyota Corolla
Andy Rouse’s eponymous team built many super tourers during the 90s in the BTCC. Starting out with Toyota, before running the Ford manufacturer contract for 3 years. For 1996, Andy Rouse ran a semi-works programme with a pair of Nissan Primeras, prior to Nissan’s full return to the championship in 1997.
For 1997, Andy thought of a plan to build and develop a car that independents could buy a reasonably priced “off the shelf” car to run in the BTCC, instead of purchasing expensive ex works cars from the previous season. The car he chose was the liftback version of the Toyota Corolla.
The programme soon hit problems, as Toyota GB decided to cancel the planned production of the car in the UK, meaning that the homologation of the car would have to be through Toyota’s Japanese arm, as FIA rules stated that the homologation had to be submitted by the country in which the road car is produced.
Sadly for Rouse, the Japanese arm were not supportive of the programme and refused to back the homologation, because the Corolla was already being used in the WRC with the Toyota works programme. After a few months of discussions, Toyota Japan finally agreed to homologate the chassis, meaning the car could be raced in the BTCC.
Now that the car could race, Rouse prepared former BTCC driver Patrick Watts to race the car, but for meeting after meeting the debut would be put back. First a lack of testing and development, then a lack of funds prevented the car from making its BTCC debut.
A final attempt to run the car at the end of the season was made, with Jamie Spence driving, but again the funding fell through and the whole project was abandoned.
1999 Atford Racing Ford Mondeo
Gareth Howell (no, not that one) planned to run a self-built Ford Mondeo in the independent category of the BTCC in 1999, under the Atford Racing name. Atford Ltd. was a tuning company owned by Howell.
This entry was after a previous failed attempt to run a Mondeo in the BTCC a few seasons earlier. The car appeared on the 1999 entry list and the car ran at pre-season tests and in season tests, albeit over 20 seconds a lap off the pace.
The car was planned to run at the Oulton Park meeting in early June, however, its lack of pace stopped that, however. The car ran in more in season tests and the pace of the car didn’t improve. Eventually, the whole programme was cancelled.
It was an ambitious programme, entirely funded by Howell and his family, which ultimately ended in disaster. The running gear of the car was sold off and the shell was left in storage until the car was purchased in 2014.