Neil Fletcher Racing

HAVOC Article No 5.

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    Member Neil Fletcher keeps us updated with this interesting letter sent to Andy Percival.

    I was going through a few old issues of HAVOC when I realised that it was almost three years since I had last written to you and thought that it was about time that I put pen to paper again and told you of a few things that I have been up to.

    Since I last wrote we have moved house, or should I say we have built a bungalow and I'm now trying to build a garage big enough to hold at least three RS's. I have also been, as we say “across the water" to the mainland on a few buying sprees to try and get enough parts gathered up for a couple of rebuild projects that I have in the pipeline. It's amazing to see how much the price of "new parts" has shot up in the last couple of years, even in the three years that I have been gathering them, some parts seem to have more than doubled in price and that's from some of the cheaper sources. In the same period of time some of the really high car prices of the late 80's have dropped and it appears that at the moment you could buy a good restored car for less than it would take to restore a basket case. Gone are the days when if we crashed the Rally Car we would put on a new wing and front panel and take her out again, now when we hit her, which seems quite often lately, we have to get the big hammer out to get her panels back to near the proper shape. There have even been two occasions when things have been so bad that we have chained her to the Range Rover (our service barge) to pull her out.

    Quite a bit has happened on the Motorsport front as well. When I last wrote I had just won the Northern Ireland Navigation Rally Championship for the second year running, unfortunately such success was not to continue and the following year all we could manage was third overall. At the end of that year my navigator of seven years decided to retire, (or was it his wife to be who decided for him, I'm not sure). During early 1992 a young novice, Nigel Frazer, started to navigate for me. He had a good teacher in his father Austin Frazer who has navigated for some of our top stage drivers. Nigel and I did very well and were lying second in our class when unfortunately Nigel had to go off to university in England. One particular event I shall never forget was when our alternator packed in and to save battery power we disconnected one of our headlights. Towards the end of the event our battery was so low we had to switch off all the electrics, apart from the ignition and fuel pump and we completed the last five miles shining a torch out through each side window just to see where we were going. The controls we came to had a great surprise, as they said we looked like two bicycles coming down the road, apart from the noise, that is.

    After Nigel retired, I had a variety of different navigators for the rest of 92 before teaming up with John, my present navigator at the end of that year. We did the full season together in 93 and ended up winning our class and coming 4th overall in the N.I. Navigation Rally Championship. We are about halfway through the 94 season but as yet have been unable to repeat last year's form, partly due to driver error - crashing at high speed on black ice and tearing the front driver's side suspension off and the odd navigator error, i.e. getting lost. Well that's not quite true, John knew from his maps where we were but couldn't work out where we should be.

    This year is the first year since winning my class in 1990 that I have done any Hillclimbs. This was partly due to a change in class structure in that cars with modified suspension pick-up points, i.e. 5-links are not allowed in the Road Going classes and I now find myself competing against 16V Vauxhall powered Westfields, 4WD Cosworth Escorts etc. I decided to return this year to re-learn the hills in the hope of coming out next year in a "road going" RS1600, even so the Mexico has really been able to give these other cars a little bit of fright on the really twisty hills.

    Over this last couple of years I have also managed to do three or four stage events each year. Our class (up to 1700cc modified) is fiercely competitive with up to 25 cars in it. We can usually get into the top five in class and the fringes of the top twenty overall. Some of our best results include a 3rd in class and on another occasion we were 14th overall, not bad for a car that's now 21 years old. I must tell you about one of the most enjoyable events in which I have competed. I'm sure you have heard tell of the Circuit of Ireland Rally, first Twin Cam rally win, four hundred miles of tarmac stages and all that stuff. Well it's a rally held over five days where they close the public roads and race over them. This year they held a special event on the first day behind the main event where crews could do just the Friday Run, i.e. about 80 miles of closed road tarmac stages all for an entry fee of £99. I can honestly say that in all my time of rallying this was the most fantastic event I have ever done. Some of the stages were over 12 miles long (many of our stages are only a couple of miles in length), needless to say at the end of the day I was shattered. We had only a small gear selection problem on one stage and a minor off on the last stage (caught on video by the Acceleration crew) to trouble us on our way to 5th in class and 27th overall out of over 80 starters. If there was only one event I got to do again, I would want it to be this event.

    I shall sign off for now and I'll not leave it so long before writing again, I have also included some detailed specifications of my car, I couldn't remember if I had sent you these before.

All the best,

Neil Fletcher.

FMX 800J - RS1600
JIJ 9975 – Mexico
FIA 6386 – Mexico
Membership No. 1472
 

MODIFICATIONS TO FORD ESCORT MEXICO JIJ 9975

ENGINE 

Kent 711M Block, bored to 170Occ and fitted with Powermax High Compression pistons, standard Crankshaft and Connecting Rods along with lightened Flywheel and Heavy Duty Clutch all fully balanced. A Kent Cams KCA3 cam has been fitted along with competition followers. A Big Valve Head is fitted with Rimflow Valves and a Steel Rocker assembly. Carburetion is via Twin 40DCOE Webers and a Janspeed Exhaust is fitted. Other engine mods include K & N Airfilters, High Pressure/High Capacity Oil Pump and Piper competition distributor.

 TRANSMISSION

 A Sierra 5-speed gearbox is fitted with a Quaiffe Clubman competition gear kit. This drives via a special Ford Motorsport propshaft to a Mexico rear axle which is fitted with a 5.1/1 ratio crown wheel and pinion and a Limited Slip Diff.

 SUSPENSION

 Front:- Bilstein Gp4 adjustable ride height front struts are fitted. These have roller top mounts and are fitted with 195 lbs springs. An anti-dive kit is fitted to the standard Mexico anti roll bar. A World Cup crossmember is fitted and a 2.5/1 Ford 'Quick Rack' (Steering Rack) and a competition Gp4  steering joint has replaced the standard joint.

 Rear:- The rear suspension has been modified by the fitting of four trailing links which attach to body boxes fitted in the rear seat area. With these are fitted 146 lbs slipper springs and Bilstein upright dampers are fitted in vertical turrets. Lateral location of the axle is via a Panhard Rod.

  Heavy Duty rubbers are used throughout the front and rear suspension.

 BRAKES

 Front:- Mk2 Escort RS2000 brake callipers (M16 type) are used and are fitted with a Ford Motorsport spacer kit and Mintex Competition pads, Ford Motorsport ventilated 9.6 ins discs are also fitted.

 Rear:- Mk2 Escort 9” RS2000 brakes are fitted along with Mintex Competition shoes.

 An adjustable bias pedal box is fitted, the cable operated handbrake is supplemented by hydraulic action to the rear brakes. All flexible hoses are Aeroquip armoured hoses and all exposed metal pipes are covered with rubber piping.

WHEELS & TYRES

 Wheels are 6x13 Ford RS Alloys or 6x13 Tech Del Minilite Sport Alloys and these are fitted with either Yokohama A008 185x60x13 or Michelin Racers 16/53x13 depending on the type of event.

BODY

 The body was completely renovated in 1988. It was also strengthened by extra seam welding and various strengthening plates. All panels are steel and glass is retained in all windows with the front being laminated. All interior trim has been removed as has the rear seat. The front seats have been replaced by Sparco highback bucket seats. Interior door panels etc have been replaced by light aluminium panels.

 GENERAL

 Twin Ford petrol tanks have been fitted from which petrol is fed to the engine via twin electric fuel pumps and a pressure regulator/filter. The petrol pipe is copper and is sheathed in a rubber pipe and runs along the underside of the transmission tunnel. Twin batteries in the boot give 24 volt starting but all other electrics are 12 volt. A Strut Brace is fitted across the engine bay between the front struts and a steel Sump Guard is fitted below the engine.

 SAFETY

 A full Safety Devices front and rear roll cage is fitted. An aluminium firewall is fitted between the petrol tanks and the passenger compartment. An electrical cut-out is also fitted as are fire extinguishers, one is a 5kg plumbed in system, the other is a 2.5kg hand held extinguisher. Four point Luke Safety Harnesses are also fitted.

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