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Mon 06 Mar 2023

On this day: A special win for Delecour and Ford

The Ford Escort RS Cosworth was widely regarded – and routinely lauded – as one of the finest Group A cars ever to take to the stage. The Boreham-built car won for the first time 30 years ago today.

But that’s not all with this story. Victory at Rally Portugal in 1993 was a very big deal for the man behind the wheel. On Saturday March 6, François Delecour finally became a World Rally Championship event winner.

Both the Escort and Delecour had come within a whisker of breaking their respective ducks a couple of months earlier at the season-opening Rallye Monte-Carlo. Deleçour led for 18 of the 22 stages in the Alps, but could do little to contain Didier Auriol and his hard-charging Toyota Celica Turbo 4WD. In the penultimate test, Auriol overhauled his rival and topped the podium for his third Monte win in four years.

In Sweden, M-Sport managing director Malcolm Wilson led and gave hope of a maiden win for himself and the Escort. Then came Portugal.

With Toyota absent in Portugal, it came as little surprise that the Escorts of Delecour and team-mate Miki Biasion were the masters of the early asphalt stages. But once the rally hit the gravel, Carlos Sainz’s Jolly Club Lancia Delta was expected to make its move. Instead, the Spaniard crashed heavily near Fafe.

Yes, the second Delta of Andrea Aghini was third, but he wasn’t really expected to trouble the two Fords ahead. The Italian was, however, close enough to give Boreham some headaches regarding a directive for Delecour and Biasion to hold station.
François kept pushing and only once he was through a potentially punishing Arganil leg, did he concede that victory could be on the cards.

It was. Hours later, the mighty relieved Frenchman celebrated with a similarly delighted Ford team. Delecour was a winner finally. And Ford’s Escort was most definitely back.