Several years ago I related how a school friend’s #44 Ray’s Toys Ford Capri 2.8i Production Saloon car gave me my first hands on experience of motor racing at the Willhire 24 Hours run at Snetterton in June 1985.
Wandering around the infield at Silverstone Classic last year I was pleasantly surprised to bump into the very car that won the 6th running of the Willhire 24 Hours, having seen it go past many times from the pit lane it looked amazingly familiar and it was almost as if the race had finished the day before, such is the condition of the car.
I believe the #43 Okay Yah Capri was first registered EVU400Y on the 15th of April 1983, I am not sure exactly when former short oval track Speedworth International Superstox driver Roy Eaton decided that his company, RE Developments based in Winnersh, Berkshire, should turn the car into a Class B, up to 3 litre / 183 cui, production saloon racer, but I believe he may have run the car in the 1984 Willhire 24 Hours in which he finished 3rd.
For 1985 Roy chose as his team mates a former short oval track Hot Rod and Super Rod ace David Oates and an oval promoter with some rally cross experience John Clark.
Opposition at the sharp end of the race came from two brand new cars a well funded Ilford Ford Escort RS Turbo driven by Mike Smith and Lionel Abbott which got as high as 2nd before dropping back to sixth and a very controversial, because of it’s cost and 16 valve heads, Mercedes Benz 190/16 driven by ex Formula One driver Mike Wilds, Mike Knight, Gerard Sauer and the cars sponsor Martin Carroll.
The two Class A Rover Vitesse V8s and two Class A turbo charged Mitsubishi Starions might have edged the multitude of Capris present on paper, but they did not have the staying power to go the full distance at a race winning pace.
The Mercedes did lead the race on occasion, but superior pit work by the RE Developments crew helped the Yokohama shod #43 Okay Yah Capri, which had been leading at 17 of the hour marks of the race, to cross the finish line two laps ahead of the Carroll’s Mercedes , completing 970 laps during 24 hours of racing in what was considered to have been the best Willhire 24 yet.
Thanks for joining me on this “Okay Yah” edition of “Gettin’ a li’l psycho on tyres I hope you will join me again tomorrow when I’ll be looking a Tyrrells 1975 Formula One challenger. Don’t forget to come back now !