WRC Tribute: Ford Escort RS Cosworth

Sanjay KumarCorrespondent IFebruary 27, 2017

The failed Ford Sierra was replaced by a car with good looks and a radical rear wing that was driven by some of the greatest in the world.

After the 1991 World Rally Championship season, the Ford World Rally Team had had enough of its Sierra RS Cosworth Group A car which had countless mechanical problems and could not keep pace with its competitors. They opted to replace it with the all-new Escort RS Cosworth.

Dawning a shorter body and a rear wing similar to that on the late Sierra RS rally car, the Escort RS received praise for its ability to achieve speed and post quickest times. The 1994 season opener, the Rally Monte Carlo was to be the first show of the Escorts promise as Frenchman Francois Delecour took the car to its first victory. Rally greats such as Tommi Makinen, Juha Kankkunen, Ari Vatanen, Miki Biasion and Carlos Sainz were among those that drove the Escort and some to the eight victories the Escort RS had in Group A competition.

The 1997 World Rally Championship season brought about the introduction of the World Rally Car, a heavily modified new car that technically stood out from that of typical Group A cars. While Ford Europe was developing a WRC-spec car, the Escort RS and operations switched over to Malcolm Wilson's M-Sport, and under the team scored two more victories.

The Escort RS made its final appearance at the 1998 Rally Great Britain where two cars finished on the podium under the expert driving of rally greats Ari Vatanen and Juha Kankkunen. The Escort RS was replaced by the Focus WRC for the 1999 season.

Although not considered one of the great rally cars, it is considered by many as one of the best looking and showed extreme promise had it not been for mechanical shortfall. Nonetheless, with eight victories, the Escort RS was a strong car and played a significant role in the mid-1990s rally world.

The Escort RS continues to be used in regional series around the world to this day.