About Ford RS200 by Jackie Stewart
About Ford RS200 by Jackie Stewart
Driving methods The FORD RS200 is a specialised, high-performance, road car, and you should always take pride in driving it smoothly, and sympathetically, at all times. Properly set-up, and maintained, the RS200 is one of the fastest and safest cars in the world. Three-times World Champion racing driver Jackie Stewart has been closely involved with the develop-ment, and test driving, of the RS200, and offers these views, and tips, about the best way to treat your RS200: 'Even when starting up the car, keep in mind that you are in a high-performance vehicle. Size for size, it is a faster car than would have been taken to the Le Mans 24 Hour race not too many years ago. It's a highly bred thoroughbred. Any performance engine of this type requires some pampering, particularly when starting up from cold. Overnight most of the oil will have settled away from the top of the engine, and you have to get all that cold oil circulating again, before you set the car to work. The same advice applies to the transmission. Start up the engine lightly, without giving it any engine revs. Give it a nice, slow, warm-up, and don't pulsate the engine revs up and down - don't go Whang, Whang, Whang on the throttle pedal. Give it time to warm through - ease it into its day in a gentle fashion - and once the temperature gauges start to register, prod the throttle pedal lightly, once or twice only, to give the spark plugs a chance to be clear. The transmission will certainly feel better when warmed up. It is designed with competitions in mind, and has a competition clutch, so it will never feel as sweet, and easy to use, as that of a Sierra or a Granada! Scorpio. In fact you may find that it is a little difficult to engage gear when the transmission is cold. You may also find that you crunch the change from first to second gear at times - don't think that's anything to be ashamed of, because Jackie Stewart crunches it as well!' Now, what about use of engine revs? 'This really is an amazingly 'torquey engine'. I can feel the turbocharger effect from about 2,500 rpm, and then it pulls smoothly all the way up to the rev-limiter. I tend not to take the engine much over the 6,000 rpm mark, and I have usually changed gear at 5,000 to 5,500 rpm. I use fifth gear much of the time. Even when I have been driving slowly around the country lanes, I still keep it in fifth gear, for it shows no signs of temperament. Which leads me to mention the instrument gauges. They are all well-displayed, and the rev-counter! tachometer is larger than the speedometer, which is right for what is a semi-competition car. You will see that all the gauges have clear markings, and you should try to get used to the nominal, or optimum, readings, which are listed elsewhere in this Manual. Any good driver, like a good pilot, has to pay attention to his instruments on a regular basis. That's something that only training, and perseverance, can ensure. For quick reference you should know where all the red needles should be pointing, once the car is warmed up, then nothing more than a quick glance around is needed.'
Because there is a choice of tranmission modes, we also asked for advice on this: 'I have always thought of the RS200 as a four-wheel drive car which just happens to have a rear-drive option as a bonus. The large majority of people who purchase this vehicle will have competitions in mind, where the four-wheel-drive configuration is ideal. Certainly for rallying, and even while using the car on the road, in a variety of conditions, they will see the purpose and novelty of it, with great traction, and most will take full advantage of this. The car is very well-balanced - we spent a lot of time on that aspect of the design - because it has only one third of the torque normally fed to the front wheels, which also have to deal with steering efforts. I would not recommend use of the centre differential lock - which gives a 50/50 per cent torque split between front and rear wheels - except in extremely slippery conditions, such as mud, or snow and ice. The ordinary four-wheel-drive configuration isso very good in almost all conditions that you will never need to use the diff. lock unless the grip really is minimal. However, the good news is that whenever I have used the diff. lock, even on hard tarmac/asphalt surfaces, I have found that the handling balance was as good as ever, perhaps even slightly better if I was getting a wheel off the ground at one corner!
Two-wheel-drive - rear-wheel-drive only, on this car - may give a slight advantage in some tarmac competitions conditions, and it may give some slight fuel economy advantage on long journeys, but when using the RS200 as an exhilarating road car the normal four-wheel-drive configuration is ideal. I rate the RS200 as the best-balanced four-wheel-drive vehicle I have driven, so far.' What about those drivers who love to tinker with a car's settings? 'People like to tinker, and they think they know a better way, but I don't recommend any of that, with this car. If you start to play with it, you will change the basic characteristics of the machine, and that's not to your advantage if something goes wrong, or some on-the-road crisis develops. I feel that the engineers have achieved the best overall balance, and the best roadholding for normal road use. All of us have tried to produce a car which is safe in any circumstances. There is tremendously good straight-line stability, good road feel, and good centre feel. Part of this is due to the suspension geometry we have worked out for the car, and to the careful attention to tyres and ride heights. The good stability is also partly due to the use of a reasonable amount of castor. Personally, I think that unless the car is to be used in competitions, the owner should not divert from the chosen road-car settings, all of which are listed elsewhere in this Manual. That advice also applies to the tyre pressures, which are recommended at 2.0 Bar/29 psi front and rear. If you over-inflate the tyres, they don't work any better, and all you will do is to wear out the centre of the tread. The tyre wear is very even, for the 'footprint' on the ground is nearly ideal. The tyres, of course, have a 'yR rating, which means that they can be used for cars which regularly exceed 130 mph. The RS200 road car certainly does that - I have driven it at close to 150 mph, and at that pace it still feels very stable.'
Jackie also wanted to emphasise the car's competitions origins: 'Because the car has four-wheel-drive and, in my opinion, merits a fair-degree of self-centring for stability, the front suspension has a lot of castor. This means that steering efforts are going to be relatively high, especially as we have big fat tyres too. Anyone who buys the car will realise its specialist nature, and he will come to accept that while parking the car, or manoeuvring it in tight spots at low speeds, a considerable effort is needed. Don't be put off by this. I keep reminding everyone that it is basically a competition car - and I recall trying to turn a Formula 1 car at low speeds, and that has very little weight, up front. At normal driving speeds, however, the steering efforts are much lighter, and completely acceptable. Now, brakes. There is no need for a servo on the RS200, the pad area is generous, so the pressures needed are quite heavy. Bear in mind that a firm feel is much more important on a car like this, than very light pedal pressures. Incidentally, after any hard driving on a bumpy, rocky, road, it is a good safety tip to check the position and 'feel' of the brake pedal again before you need it in earnest. That's especially true at the start of the day's motoring, or after any session where flying stones might have caused a brake leak that you didn't know about. In cars, by ~he way, I'm sure that most of us are not nearly as careful, or as conscientious, as airplane pilots are. We should be. It is very good practice to have a cockpit check, before you drive away. The RS200, of course, has had to make some compromises. It has to be basically right for competition, and it also has to be an acceptable road car. I think that customers will soon know that they have a very precise-handling, very agile, and very fast road car, but they should also come to terms with some characteristics of this thorough-bred. However, there is certainly more transmission noise than on a conventional two-wheel-drive car - more splines and universal joints, for instance - so don't be alarmed to hear this on your own RS200. They will all be like that. The big advantage of four-wheel-drive, for ordinary motorists not intending to enter their cars for competi-tion, is that it gives so much traction. It seems to be able to get out of almost any cornering situation, and to pull itself out, under power. I certainly think it reacts more positively, in cornering, than any other car I know.'