CCHMSC visit M-Sport - 16 August
Story and pictures Jim Paterson
Some thirty CCHMSC from across the country, one crew driving their Austin Healey Sprite from London, to join the club visit to M-Sport at their Dovenby Hall
workshops in Cockermouth, to see how they build WRC winning cars.
were privileged to see not only the history of the Malcolm Wilson led
facility, bringing back memories of the sixties and seventies, but also
see current WRC and Bentley GT3 R&D, manufacturing, car build,and
preparation happening in front of our eyes.
gathered at the 'Pit Stop' for a coffee and bacon roll before meeting
our tour guide Roger Fisher in the trophy room in the main house.
Hall served as a private residence (1154 – 1930), and a mental
institution (1930 – 1997), before being bought in 1998 by Malcolm
Wilson, and turned into a multi-million pound development owned by
After the introductory briefing we headed for the
museum to see a range of rally and race cars from Malcolm Wilson's
M-sport past. Easily recognised was Malcolm's Mk2 Ford Escort using
technology that most of us were familiar with. A Mk3 Escort RS1700T was
right behind the MK2, being only one of 6 road going cars produced in
1982, alongside the Grp B Rally version... These cars were rear
wheel drive turbocharged, exported to South Africa in 1983. Imported
back to the UK in 1986, Malcolm Wilson acquired this one in 1998. The
car has never been started since!
I want one of these cry the members on our tour.An example of a Ford Focus WRC car was displayed, driven by Finnish driver Jari-Matti
Latvala, and co-driver Mikka Anttila. It did experience some
trauma on the 2009 Rally de Portugal, crashing out on SS4.
rules change and the focus was replaced by the Ford Fiesta to comply
with new specifications. Roger told us M-sport build 3 version, a 2
wheel drive club sport type at a mere £60-70k each. These are
built in the M-sport facility in Poland. The AWD version at
£300-400k and the full blown WRC version AWD starting at
£600 - £750k. I guess there are optional extras you can add
if you have any spare cash!!
Finally we saw an early Bentley GT3
race series car. Based on the Bentley Continental it comes with a 4.2
litre V8 power plant. We would see the latest versions in the workshop
Moving on to the workshops we were introduced to some of
the uprated aluminium parts for the Fiesta and Focus suspension
parts. We assumed they were machined castings, but found out they are
milled from solid billets of Aluminium. X-Ray and crack testing ensure
they are flawless after completion.
We then moved on to the
gearbox and diff building workshop. This area, like the last and the
rest are all spotless, no sign of oil on the floor or dirty rags
anywhere. some of the builds are done with white gloves on, they are
that particular about cleanliness of the products. We heard of
the restrictions to changing items in the field, how the units are
wired, sealed, and bar coded. This would apply to the 1600cc engine
power units, which we were next taken to see. An engine, gearbox and
diff system must be used in 4 rallies before being changed and
stripped. Any change in field will, like F1 race cars, incur a heavy
Time to head to the main assembly workshop where we
saw some 12 cars in various stages of preparation. Two Bentley GT3 cars
were in various stages of construction, with crates of major
mechanicals awaiting fitment. I addition to customer Fiesta's in build
there were two M-sport WRC cars being completed after rebuild following
the Finnish WRC round, going on to the German round the following week.
We were interested to note the lack of any four post lifts.
Roger explained that the cars are on stands in the workshop, just as
they would be in the service areas on stage. As the workshop build crew
go with the car on stage if they can build it lying on their backs
under the car in the workshop then they will be in a familiar place in
the service area.
If you want to see what a service is like in
the field see how the Toyota Yaris team work, watch the WRC Night
Service of Ott Tanak's Rally Car - WRC Australia 2018
whole service takes just over 40 minutes, but what the service team do
is amazing. Kwik Fit fitter has some way to go to beat this! all
under the beady eye of the FiA scrutineer.
we returned to the main house we stopped off to see S9 FMC, the Ford
focus driven by Colin McCrae on the 1999 Sfari Rally. The first win for
a Ford focus at WRC level.
main house we heard about the extension to the facility that more than
doubles the workshop size to enable more work on the Jaguar all
electric iPace racing preparation, and manufacturer prototype
testing on the adjacent test track to be carried out.
Final talk from Roger at the end of our extensive tour.
day out for everyone, with club member Bill Barr meeting Malcolm Wilson
himself and having him sign a photo of him and his co-driver Eddie Hawk
receiving a trophy from Malcolm at Lanarkshire Car Club around
1977 / 78.
A young Malcolm Wilson presents silverware at LCC 1977/78
Published 19 August