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Paul Alexander - Escort Mk2, 2.0L Duratec

Message via Facebook received from Paul after finishing 5th Overall, 1st in Class at Weston Park Rally, 20th March 2016.

'Another event and another 1st in class thanks to the incredible power plant from SBD. Thats 3 events on the trot that we've taken the 2-litre class honours, and two 5th place overalls in the past two events. Thanks ever so much to all at SBD!'

Email received from Paul;

'The team contested the popular AGBO Stages Rally at Weston Park near Telford yesterday, mainly to test some further small changes to the car and also to get some additional seat team after the extended winter lay-off. 

With only 30 stage miles on offer it was clear that margins between teams would be small, and that any time lost with mistakes would be difficult to recover.   With this in mind, we took a steady approach on stage 1 before pushing hard on stage 2.  The result was an early class lead and a position inside the top 10.  We increased the lead further until a gremlin in the power steering system became apparent on stage 5, causing issues navigating the tighter junctions, chicanes and hairpins.  The following 4 stages saw us trying to drive around the problem, attacking the faster sections to make up for the time loss in slower areas – always knowing that one mistake would mean the end of any hopes of an award.  Entering the final stage the class lead was reduced to just 7 seconds, so a big push was needed to hold the chasing crews back.  Fortunately, the “ten tenths” approach on stage 10 worked and we actually managed to extend our lead to 9 seconds, leaving us in 5th place overall out of 75 crews.

We’re delighted to have taken 3 class wins from the past 3 events, and also two top five overall placings in our last two events!   The car is now back in the workshop where some TLC is required.  In addition to resolving the power steering issue and further refining the gear-shift electronics, we also aim to find further performance, potentially by adding modern, adjustable dampers.

We’d once again like to thank you for your continued support, without which we wouldn’t be able to compete and achieve such results.'

Message via Facebook received from Paul after finishing 5th Overall, 1st in Class at Donington Stage Rally, 6th March 2016.

'SBD power does it again! Disastrous tyre choice on SS1 dropped us to... 33rd overall and 9th in class at Donington Rally today but the fight back took us to 5th and a class win by 1min 43 secs Thanks again guys'

Email received from Paul;

'The team contested the Imperial Commercials Volkswagen stage rally at Donington Park this weekend, primarily to test the changes that we’d made to the car over the winter, and to dust off the cobwebs after a 5 month lay-off. Special Stage 1 didn’t go to plan, with a poor tyre choice for the slippery conditions relegating us way down the overall and class order.  For Stage 2 we adopted a safety first approach using a full wet weather tyre - which netted us a top 5 stage time, fastest in our class, and was the start of what would turn out to be a strong fight back.  Each of the remaining six tests saw us continue to punch above our weight, generally setting top 4/5 times and winning our class on every stage.  The end result was a climb from 33rd overall and 9th in class after SS1 to finish 5th overall and take a dominant class win by 1min 43secs after the 8 stages and 55 miles.  In the process, we proved that the revised fuel system was working well, allowing us to run the car around 15Kg lighter on each test.

We’re now planning to improve the Escort further, believing that a gain of around 0.5 seconds per mile will allow us to fight for outright honours.  This is likely to involve revised dampers, further weight saving, and potentially a little more power. We’d like to take this opportunity to thank you for your continued support, without which we wouldn’t be able to achieve such results. Many thanks again!'

Email received from Paul after the Rainworth Skoda Dukeries Rally at Donnington, 25 October 2015.

Hello Craig, I just wanted to drop you a line to thank yourself, Steve and the rest of the team at SBD for the performance I now have at my disposal.

We contested the Rainworth Skoda Dukeries Rally at Donington Park yesterday and finished 3rd overall and 1st in the 2.0 class.  In the process we comfortably beat all of the 2.5 Escorts powered by another well-known engine builder.  As you may have heard, we were actually second overall entering the final stage - in which the lead car then broke down – but we were compromised by a poor lighting setup and had to settle for a steady, safe finish ultimately.

The SBD engine never missed a beat all day.  It starts on the button every time, and pressures and temps remained stable all day.  There were a LOT of people visiting our pit lane garage to see the car close-up, with many commenting how crisp the engine sounded, and most not believing it was a 2.0L

Paul Alexander at Dukeries Rally, Donnington Oct15
Picture: Glen Downer

That’s now two rallies in which we’re driven home disappointed that we’ve narrowly missed out on outright wins – which is way higher an expectation than I would ever have imagined whilst running a 2.0 against strong fields. Now, how do I get my hands on more power?! :)

Cheers, Paul.

Paul Alexander some information about his rallying experience and his latest SBD Duratec powered MK2 Escort.
Paul Alexander. Picture:Malcolm Almond

After previously rallying at quite a serious level, including National and British Rally Championship campaigns, I finally decided to build myself a near depreciation-proof rally car, so settled on a Mk2 Escort.  A shell was sourced, and the initial Grp4 preparation was carried out by Bob Dowen Rally Services in south Wales.  This work included the modifications to fit a Honda S2000 engine and gearbox.   Having eventually finished the car and subsequently fitted it with a Quaife 60G sequential gearbox, more modifications were carried out by Retro Motorsport before we had a couple of outings - none of which were successful. 

The first outing was an event in the Midlands during which I put the car off whilst comfortably leading my class, and the next was a track day at Brands Hatch in which the “ultra reliable” Honda engine let go!  During the depressing drive home, a friend and SBD customer, Matt Downer persuaded me to look at fitting a proper competition engine, namely an SBD Duratec.  After discussions with Matt and the team at SBD, we settled on a hybrid specification somewhere between the 297 and 304 kits.

Picture:Malcolm Almond

The engine was finally installed in time for 2013, and the first event turned into a nightmare.  Numerous niggling problems and poor weather were followed by an Escort versus straw bale incident which the bale won!  Another retirement ;(  So having had a handful of retirements in 8 years of rallying at a decent level, I’d managed to retire in both “mickey mouse” events with the Escort. 

I’ve spent the following two years re-engineering various aspects of the Escort and, although it isn’t quite a “money-no-object” car, it doesn’t want for much now.  SBD 2-litre Duratec powerplant, Quaife 60G gearbox with SBD MBE-controlled flat-shift setup, Fostek fully floating axle, modular WRC suspension by Grp4 Fabrications, carbon fibre panels, Alcon brakes, floor mounted pedal-box etc etc.  We recently gave the car a shakedown on the Hylton Gott Volvo Centenary Stages at Snetterton and the car performed faultlessly.  We punctured on one of the stages, but we won our class on 9 out of 9 stages completed, were fastest 2WD car on 5 stages and were fastest overall on the final two stages.  Bearing in mind how little seat time we have had in the car, Tom and I are delighted with the pace and the potential that still remains untapped. 

Future mods planned for the car include Reiger dampers, ATL bag-tank and SBD drive-by-wire throttle setup.

Thanks to all the team at SBD for their help and advice!  We’re looking forward to flying the SBD flag in the coming seasons….

YouTube Report from Snetterton Rally, August 2015

SBD 2.0L Duratec TP290+ spec

Upgraded to 2 Ring Slipper Piston and Long Rod Set
High Spec Taper Throttle Body Kit (TP-DURA-2.0L-K3)
Closed Loop Flatshift – Set to Complete on Target Gear
Launch Control
Electric Water Pump Control
Sequential Fuelling and Ignition with Coil On plug
CM-DUR-03 Cam pairing with Double Valve Spring Kit
+1mm CNC Ported Head
3 Stage Drysump System
Keyed Crankshaft and Pulleys
Heavy Duty Manual Chain Tensioner
Billet Rear Water Outlet (WT-DURA-4K) into Laminova Heat Exchanger
SBD/BTB Exhaust Manifold (EX-M-DUR-RD01S)
7.25” Twin Plate Track Super Clutch (CLTC-TRA-7.25-2-1X23BN)
Bell Housing to Type 9 fitment box (BELH-DURA-01)
Concentric Hydraulic Clutch Slave Cylinder (CLT-HCA-40-HD)
Paul Alexander
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