Dunlop has launched a new historic racing series, the Dunlop Saloon Car Cup, which will feature three classes of cars made famous in championships such as the British Touring Car Championship.
Each class will receive the same level of support from the promoters, the Historic Sports Car Club (HSCC) and will feature in a four-race calendar.
The Group 1 class will be known as the ‘Tom Walkinshaw Trophy’ in honour of the respected driver and team owner who contributed much to touring car racing in the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s.
Walkinshaw made his BTCC début as a driver in 1973 before going on to set up his own team, TWR, which secured wins in cars such as the Mazda RX7 and the Jaguar XJS. TWR then moved on to high levels of the sport at Le Mans and Formula 1 but continued to be represented in the BTCC with Volvo in the 1990s.
TWR also enjoyed success in the European Touring Car Championship. The HSCC expects cars as diverse as the Chevrolet Camaro and the Mini 1275GT to compete in the ‘Group 1’ category.
“I’m really grateful that the Trophy is using dad’s name,” said Tom’s son Sean, who has given the family’s blessing to the new cup. “He achieved so much in touring car racing, both as a driver and team owner and it all started in the 70s Group 1 era.
“Touring cars were always my dad’s passion and it was the building block to what TWR eventually became.
“It’s going to be great to see all these Group 1 cars on track, especially as this was way before my time. I’ll maybe even see one of my dad’s old cars race again.”
The Group A class will be known as the ‘Tim Harvey Trophy’ in which the BTCC champion began his career. The FIA’s Group A replaced Group 1 in 1982, and required a set of ‘homologation specials’ to be produced to the racing specification. This resulted in high-performance racing specials, including the Ford Sierra RS500, BMW E30 M3 and Rover Vitesse.
Harvey, the current BTCC co-commentator with David Addison, is looking forward to seeing the Group A cars battle it out on track again in 2019.
“The Group A era had it all,” said Harvey, the 1992 BTCC champion. “Recognisable cars, more power than grip and rear wheel drive.
“My first BTCC win was in the V8 Rover Vitesse in 1987, but it was the Ford Sierra RS500 that became the fans’ favourite. I’m proud of my victories in the Labatt’s liveried Sierra.
“It’s going to be fabulous to see these cars emerge from collections and allow a new generation of fans to experience the sights and sounds of a brilliant era of touring car racing”.
The third class will be for ‘Super Touring’ or FIA Class 2 cars, which raced in the 1990s during a ‘boom era’ for the sport, and the BTC Touring cars from the early 2000s. The category will be known as the ‘David Leslie Cup’ in honour of the late racing driver who took victories for Vauxhall, Honda and Nissan during the era, before racing for Proton in the BTC Touring years.
During the era manufacturers got increasingly involved in the racing, with cars featuring two-litre high-revving engines and advanced aerodynamics. The aggressive look of the cars led to spectacular imagery and almost 30 different cars were homologated for the ruleset.
Leslie’s wife Jane has given her support to the new class: “There are endless happy memories. It was a fantastic era of technology and competition and the family are truly honoured that David’s legacy will be celebrated with this event.
“The cars were sophisticated and demanding and I think the historic racing community is amazing in how they bring these cars and memories back to life”.
All three classes will receive equal promotion under the umbrella of the Dunlop Saloon Car Cup. Each will have its own identity, rather than a ‘conventional class hierarchy’.
Andy Dee-Crowne, CEO of the HSCC, said: “We’re delighted to have the support of the Leslie and Walkinshaw families and the endorsement from Tim Harvey.
“The three eras of Touring Car racing appeal to different generations and for the HSCC it marks a new opportunity. It widens our span of racing to include the ‘modern era’ of the mid-2000s and will attract a new fanbase to HSCC events.
“It is wonderful to have Dunlop’s support. They have been part of the BTCC since the very first season in 1958 and Dunlop tyres have been used by race winners in each of the three eras we are showcasing.
“They are a fantastic technical partner to the Cup and their investment builds a strong bridge to their involvement in contemporary BTCC.”
The HSCC will display a car from the Cup at the Race Retro Motorsport Show in Warwickshire from 22 to 24 February.
2019 race dates
May 18/19 Silverstone GP (International Trophy)
June 8/9 Donington Park (Masters Historic Festival)
June 29/30 Brands Hatch GP (Legends of Brands)
August 24-26 Oulton Park (Gold Cup)