MAR 19th 2016

4‑Time BTCC Champ Rouse Back In The Driving Seat

A split oil pipe! And of all the cruel luck it would have to happen to the car of Andy Rouse wouldn’t it?

The Super Touring car demonstration on the Saturday of 74MM was indeed missing one very important driver – Andy Rouse after all did more than any other to get the popular series going. Reason for the DNS? His Mondeo’s oil pipe split while the Ford was on the grid at the start of the 10-minute demo.

74th Members' Meeting live stream promo 74MM

As it turned out it was not much of a demo – more a full-on race! Echoes of a motor racing past a quarter of a century ago came thick and fast as Nissan led Vauxhall led Peugeot and drivers like Cleland and Watts diced like it was the 1990s again. The circa 300bhp tourers were circulating Goodwood – where of course they never raced in period – in around 1min 28secs. There were even a couple of spinners.

‘It was good we stopped on the grid otherwise the engine would have blown up,’ Andy, four-times British Saloon Car champion, tells GRR. Andy should know; his Rouse Engineering team built more than 20 of the racing Mondeos which took the Super Touring formula around the world. The car at Goodwood – owned and restored by Andy’s former colleague in Rouse Engineering Alan Strachan – was the very last one built in 1994.

How disappointed was Andy to miss out on such a precious timewarp motor racing moment?

Andy Rouse

‘It would have been prefect, so a great shame it didn’t work out. I was watching the cars on the big screens and it brought back a lot of memories.

‘Super Touring were great days with fantastic support from everyone. It was on BBC Grandstand with Murray Walker commentating on it. It was a fantastic championship, with its driver and manufacturer allegiances. Racing like that has appeal and always will. At one stage we had nine manufacturer teams and 18 professional drivers. With Alfa and BMW and Peugeot it was a proper international championship.’

How did the class start?

‘We kind of invented it, with help from Dave Richards and a few others. We all put together a new set of rules for what was originally called the 2-litre formula. We wanted to involve more cars and more manufacturers so we simplified the rules to allow everyone in rather than only those willing to make a special racing car.’

Andy Rouse Ford Mondeo 74MM

As driver and team owner, Andy’s first Super Touring car was the Toyota Carina in 1991, which he drove with Will Hoy, before moving on to the success that was the Super Touring Mondeo. He didn’t race that but after his four championships (with Triumph Dolomite Sprint in 1975, Alfa Romeo GTV6 in’83, Rover Vitesse in ’84 and Ford Sierra XR4Ti in 1985) and astonishing 60-victory tally, he hardly needed to.

What was his favourite car?

‘The Rover Vitesse I think, though any car that wins a championship is a favourite of mine.’

What does the saloon car ace think of today’s BTCC? ‘In some ways it is a simpler formula now like Super Touring was, and I think that shows in the level of spectator appeal it has. Do I wish I was racing now? No, after 35 years as a professional racing driver I have done my time in the pitlane.

Andy Rouse Ford Mondeo 74MM

‘But I could stay here all day watching the Super Touring cars on the circuit.’

The good news is that the Mondeo (with new oil pipe) will be fine for the Super Touring demo on Sunday, though it will be driven by Alan Strachan.

Photography by Pete Summers

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