MG Rover era factory race cars star in Australia

MG Racing Australia has been lucky enough over recent years to feature some of the most spectacular and rare MG Rover era vehicles produced under the Sport and Racing banner.  Incredible considering MG Rover was a minor player in Australia and the factory didn’t compete in Australia or market any of the competition vehicles.

MG Rover was only around from 2000 through to 2005 when it went bankrupt which is a whole different story.  The competition side of MG Rover known as MG Sport and Racing had a huge presence in Europe competing in the British Touring Cars, Le Mans, Rallying, GT and Endurance racing and in 2005 there were stillborn projects that have lived on.

While there are no known rally vehicles in Australia there are now more significant works race cars from this era of MG in Australia than there are in the UK.

Andrew Howell has perhaps been the most high profile vehicle having competed in the factory built MG ZR Judd endurance race car once campaigned in endurance racing in the UK with touring car star Anthony Reid.  “We bought the car after it was in Australia, the two parts are the historic significance of the car and the second was it was an exceptional package that really hit the spot.  I had come from a history of Honda’s in various Civic and Integra race cars and the ZR is not dissimilar to the Civic so we had some knowledge of how to run and drive a FWD race car” Howell commented.

His ZR got a makeover in Australia to improve a couple of reliability issues, “We upgraded a few components, firstly the gearbox to a more reliable Holinger and the old PI Research computer system to the more reliable and well supported MoTeC locally. This helped solve a number of reliability issues we had, finally we removed the air jacks for weight as we don’t do pit stops here and we also had Judd engine developments in the UK rebuild the engine”.  The car went on to win the 2014 MG Racing Championship with Andrew at the wheel and would have won further had various health and work commitments hold him back.  The ZR will return to our circuits for a full campaign in 2019 with Andrew at the wheel.

Adrian Akhurst has had a long relationship with MG’s, his business founded off it, and he has come to own some exciting vehicles including the stillborn MG ZT V8 that Sport and Racing never completed for European competition. “There isn’t a huge amount of information on what it was exactly going to do but from what we know the plan was for a customer to use the vehicle in the VLN series at the Nurburgring which is why it was LHD.  We purchased the vehicle 90% complete but having never turned a wheel in anger.  Essentially we have had to embark on a development program to finish the vehicle”.  The car is excepted to return to our circuits in 2019 having had a couple of years focusing on Formula 5000 with his son.

Beyond that Australia also see’s two MG ZS British Touring Cars both race winners across the 4 years they were campaigned including one driven by multiple BTCC Champion Colin Turkington.

The latest vehicle, and another very significant vehicle is the MG SV-R which will take to circuits in 2019.  The car had a very significant history in Europe, “it was originally constructed by MG Sport and Racing for a private customer to compete across Europe and the UK.  It was actually constructed to the original FIA GT3 rules and was the only vehicle to be constructed as such.  It ran a French GT event known as VdeV, and at Jarama in Spain for the ‘Modern Endurance Challenge’.  It’s debut race was essentially the foundation of FIA GT3, up against the 996 GT3 porsche, Marcos, Jaguar etc. “

After MG’s collapse the vehicle went away and didn’t compete often and ended up at some minor club events with it’s owner until the vehicle was purchased by the Howell family.  “We knew of the vehicle and lots of phone calls, emails, negotiations we were able to secure the vehicle. The intention was to turn it around in 12 months and start competing with it but as always the best laid plans…. And such 5 years later we are ready to debut”.  The vehicle arrived in Australia but a number of components were missing or not working and the Howell family essentially had to start again.  “We strip it down and basically start again, the engine wasn’t anything like it was supposed to be, the gearbox was at the end of it’s life, the electronics weren’t working properly and there was no support in Australia for the ECU, the gauges were all over the place and there were a million of them across the dash, and the list goes on”.

The car has since had a number of changes in the lead to it’s debut in Australia and the second life of the vehicle.   It joins the growing list of significant MG Rover era race cars in Australia!

 

Factory built MG Rover era race cars in Australia

MG ZS BTCC Ex Fiona Leggate
MG ZS BTCC Ex Colin Turkington
MG ZT LHD Endurance Racecar Never used in period
MG ZR Judd Ex Anthony Ried & Fiona Leggate
MG SV-R GT3
MG ZT 520 Factory supported privateer vehicle
MG F / TF Cup One make factory supported race series

 

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