The latter series’ failure placed the emphasis on cheaper national championships benefiting from increasing TV exposure. And Ford’s spectacular Sierra RS500, all fire and brimstone, drew the crowds and viewers in. Returnee Rouse swept all before him in 1988 – his dices with visiting ETCC frontrunner Soper are still vivid in the memory – and in ’89 he fended off Robb Gravett, whose Australian-built ‘Cossie’ ran on Yokohama rubber superior to Rouse’s Pirellis.
Neither man, however, took the respective titles, which went to Sytner, still in an M3, and John Cleland’s Vauxhall Astra GTE respectively. With each class being dominated by a single model, change was brewing.
Once again Britain went its own way – and 1990 would be a stopgap: Group A was to run alongside a new formula, with a view to the latter taking over entirely in ’91. It would be wrench to lose the Sierras – but even Rouse could see that this was for the common good: it was he who proposed the new 2-litres.