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Mike Wilds

 

I had the honour of driving for Ecurie Ecosse from 1984 until 1987, four of the most enjoyable years motor sport of my career.


My involvement with the team was thanks to my dear friend Ray Mallock who was approached by Hugh McCaig to build a Group C2 car for the 1984 World Sports Prototype Championship.

Ray telephoned me about the project and asked if I would like to drive for the team, obviously I was delighted to accept.

Our first race was the 1984 Monza 1000k's and if my memory serves me correctly we finished Second which laid the foundation for a successful future for the team.

Driving the Ecosse was an absolute delight, with its very low frontal area 13inch front wheels the car was very rapid in a straight line but sadly lacked a little braking power due to the small front brakes in the 13inch wheels. This however did not detract too much from the cars stunning performance.

Later in the 1984 season we ventured to Le Mans for the first time, I had driven there twice already in a Porsche 935 and a Lola Sports car. I was given the initial testing laps in the car and Ray had worked out the top gear ratio, increase of tyre diameter and rpm of the engine to give me an idea of when we would reach 200 mph.

After a couple of warm up laps I then set off on my first full throttle run down the long 3.5 mile Mulsanne Straight. Once in top gear I watched the rpm rise as I sped along the straight, I passed the 200 mph rpm mark which Ray had calculated and it continued to climb to the point where the little car was doing 215 mph.

Then there was a loud BANG!

My heart jumped a beat, I froze, not wanting to move the steering or touch the brakes in case I speared off to the side of the track....I had never been this fast in a car before and we were covering the ground so quickly, it was very exilerating till the bang!

The car seemed to remain stable and as the speed decayed I gingerly applied the brakes and started to try and see what had gone wrong. When the bang occurred there was a loud rushing noise together with lots of dust being drawn into the cockpit.

The car had probably lost half it's speed and felt as though I could get out but we were still doing over 100 mph. As I looked around I was shocked to see that the drivers side Perspex window had disappeared!

We couldn't test top speeds in the UK so this was the first time the aerodynamics had been subjected to these high speeds.

What had happened was the airflow over the outside of the car and the differential of the pressure inside the car caused the window to depart the car, it was like sitting in a balloon when someone burst it.

After driving the car gently back to the pits and having a large brandy we replaced the window but this time cutting a series of holes to relieve the pressure.

We never had the problem again throughout the cars career.

Initially we ran Cosworth 3.3 litre V8 engines until 1986 when the team negotiated with Austin Rover to use the V6 6R4 rally engine. This slightly less powerful but lighter unit was tuned by John Dunn of Swindon Race engines. It proved an ideal partner as we went on to win the 1986 Group C2 World Team Championship beatin Spice Engineering for the first time.

Driving for Ecurie Ecosse will forever bring a smile to my face.

Mike Wilds

 

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