Ex-Longhurst 1990 Benson & Hedges Ford Sierra RS500 Joins Record Phillip Island Classic Field


Ex-Longhurst 1990 Benson & Hedges Ford Sierra RS500 Joins Record Phillip Island Classic Field

In just a few days the 2016 Phillip Island Classic will light up Australia’s iconic Phillip Island circuit and the red lights will go out on the first round of the Heritage Touring Cars’ 2016 series.

Round one of the series will see a record field of 47 historic Australian Group C and A touring cars tackle Phillip Island’s fast and sweeping bends and thrill spectators with touring car racing at its finest.

Joining that record Heritage Touring Cars grid will be the freshly restored 1990 Benson & Hedges Ford Sierra RS500 of Carey McMahon.

The Benson & Hedges Sierra was the last Sierra built by Frank Gardner, Jim Stone and the Benson and Hedges team, and was the only one built entirely in Australia.

It only competed in 11 races in period, debuting at Amaroo before heading to Bathurst for the 1990 Tooheys 1000.

Speed at Bathurst was the priority for the car, with the team going so far as to develop it in left hand drive configuration because Bathurst runs anti-clockwise and sitting the driver over on the inside of the circuit helps with balance.

Sadly that work did not translate into success.

Tony Longhurst was extremely quick in the lead-up to qualifying, breaking George Fury’s 1984 Hardies Heroes time and doing over 290 kilometres an hour down Conrod Straight. He qualified in 5th, but ultimately he and teammate Mark McLaughlin would leave the race just 53 laps in.

The car was sold to Brian Bolwell, who raced it at Bathurst in ’91 and ’92 to little success, and would eventually sell it into the Bowden collection in 1994.

Ex-Longhurst 1990 Benson & Hedges Ford Sierra RS500

And that’s where it remained until December of 2015, when Carey McMahon purchased it and began a full rebuild that was completed in an astonishing eight weeks.

“We completely rebuilt the car in just eight weeks. Everything down to the dash! And it’s just beautiful. It still has the original paint from 1990!”

“Two weeks ago we were able to do a morning of testing, where we learned a lot. We’ve since got everything working properly, and this weekend at Phillip Island will be our first real run!”

“We’ve been able to use our experience in setting up Nissans as a logical starting point, and will go from there. The goal is to finish the weekend with the car and engine in one piece.”

“It’s a circuit that I really like – fast and sweeping – and I am quite experienced there. If the car is up to it we hope to be competitive and to run in the top five.”

“Terry Lawlor will be fast in the Caltex Sierra, and I’d love to be able to have a run with him.”

Ex-Longhurst 1990 Benson & Hedges Ford Sierra RS500

“We’re just delighted to be able to come to a meeting like this which has been so well organised by both the VHRR and the HTC team. I’ve been hearing such great feedback about how professionally the HTC team has conducted themselves and put this round together, and with a record entry of 47 cars it’s going to be magnificent.

“The Phillip Island Classic itself is just the most incredible event. 540 cars from all over the world running in such a beautiful place and on such an iconic circuit. It’s a highlight of the year for me!”

The Phillip Island Classic will be held over the 11th to the 13th of March and let a massive field of historic racing and sports cars loose on Phillip Island.

An awe-inspiring grid of 47 historic Australian Touring Cars will kick off the 2016 Heritage Touring Cars series at the event with racing direct from the golden age of the sport. Don’t miss it.

For more information on the Heritage Touring Cars series head to www.heritagetouringcars.com.au. Further details about the VHRR and Phillip Island Classic can be found at www.vhrr.com.

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