Francis has been working on the restoration of his ex-works RHD Saab V4 rally car ahead of its debut on this year’s Roger Albert Clark (RAC) Rally, which takes place from November 10-13. Francis will drive the car for the rally with our dear friend, Peter Lythell, in the co-driver’s seat.
Saabs have always been a fascination for FT. Our company founder has owned many rally Saabs over the years, including one which was shipped to Kenya for the original Safari Rally. This particular car is a genuine ex-works machine, which took part in the 1975 Swedish Rally. Francis sold the V4 to a friend many moons ago and it lay dormant until he bought the car back a couple of years ago.
One big challenge in final preparation for the 2017 RAC Rally was to make a new crown wheel and pinion: no longer available off the shelf. Francis turned to the Saab oracle, Stig Blomqvist, for advice on final drive ratios. The decision was taken to go with a 6:35, as per the works manuals and in keeping with all of the works parts seen elsewhere on the car. The Saab has recently been inspected ahead of its FIA papers and all of those parts were taken into consideration.
2017 RAC Rally Route
‘Four Days – Three Counties – 300 Stage Miles’ is how the rally is presented and the route is exceptional. Friday starts at Shelsley Walsh hillclimb, where the cars tackle two special stages over the famous course. The rest of the day is run through the Welsh mountains around Radnor, at which point the cars head north, to continue the rally in the north of England and through southern Scotland.
Day two is the longest day of the rally: 98 stage miles after that huge trek up country. Now based in Carlisle, the rally route loops around service in Kielder Water for a very long day. Sunday is day three with another 90 miles of competitive stages, with service in Lockerbie. Monday is the final day of the rally, with 70 miles of stages.
Francis’ technical focus in the final few days before rally start is on the transmission and making it easy to change. “We have 300 stage miles in the same time period as a modern WRC rally, which on average covers 160 stage miles. While the Ford Taunus V4 engine with its big Weber carburettors should have no trouble, the expected life of the gearbox is a bit of an unknown. Stig says even the works mechanics took forty-five minutes to change a transmission, so we’ll have some work to do if one fails mid-event, as they are very well buried. We’ll see how we go.”
Rally routes for the three days in the north of the UK run within easy reach of Newcastle, Edinburgh and Glasgow, and almost one hundred cars have been entered on the rally. Organisers expect good spectator support for the rally and we wish everyone a great event!