Tuesday, Aug 2 07:56pm
AUTHOR: Matthew Hansen

Historic ex-BTCC 'Rapid Fit' Ford Mondeo super touring car coming to NZ

Less than one month after it was confirmed that an ex-British Touring Car Championship Volvo S40 would be coming to New Zealand, it's understood that yet another super-touring era race car will also make the journey over the coming months.


The car in question is a Prodrive-built 'Rapid Fit' Ford Mondeo from the year 2000 — the PR-ST/F-2K-04 chassis, which is also the last of eight that Prodrive ever built over a two-year period. With Sweden's Rickard Rydell behind the wheel, it was able to finish third in the 2000 season before being decommissioned. Eventually it wound up competing at a selection of club events under several different owners.


Volvo S40


The Volvo S40 recently purchased and campaigned by Lindsay O'Donnell. Photo / Peter Still, PSP Images understands that the car has been acquired by Scott O'Donnell, adding to he and his uncle Lindsay O'Donnell's already impressive fleet of famous touring cars — Lindsay having purchased the ex-Jim Richards Volvo S40 uncovered last month. The Mondeo was won at auction late last week; put under the hammer at the Silverstone Classic Auction on Thursday the 28th of July.


While there are already multiple super touring Mondeos residing in New Zealand, it's believed that this is the first of the wider, lower last-generation Prodrive chassis' to arrive here. It joins the two other Mondeos that the O'Donnells own, plus the example owned by former World Touring Car Cup winner Paul Radisich. 


As the super touring era exploded in the ’90s, running costs grew as well. Having attracted some of the biggest names in motorsport like Williams F1 and Tom Walkinshaw Racing, a number of teams started to call time on competing in the series, leading to a mass exodus.


Croft win


Rickard Rydell takes victory at Croft during the 2000 BTCC season. Photo / Prodrive


As organizers began to search for a new, more cost-effective formula to replace the advanced super-touring cars, the amount of factory-backed teams dwindled to just three — Honda, Vauxhall, and the V6Ford.


With the Mondeos (driven by Rydell, Anthony Reid, and Alain Menu) winning 11 out of the 24 races that comprised the season, it was inevitable that the blue-oval trio would be the three to fight over championship honours at the Silverstone season finale. In the end Menu triumphed by just two points over Reid, with Rydell rounding out the podium.


After the BTCC replaced their super touring machines with newly adopted BTC-T cars, the Rydell Mondeo went into hiding. It returned to the track in 2003 for a season in the Formula Saloon Championship and the Welsh Racing Drivers Association Sports & Saloon Car Championship.


Tony Longhurst


Photo / Peter Still, PSP Images


After another hiatus, the Rapid Fit Mondeo made another return in 2007; becoming a regular fixture at saloon-car meetings over the next eight years before ultimately winding up on the auction block last week.


The buy wasn't the only win for the O'Donnells last week, after Lindsay O'Donnell's BMW 318 won at the Silverstone Classic. It did so with its former pilot from more than two decades ago, Australian Tony Longhurst [pictured above], behind the wheel.


Photos: Prodrive / Peter Still, PSP Images