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For a brief moment in time back in 1970 Rover`s flagship saloon the P6 with a V8 rumbled round the UKs tracks in special saloon races with a view to going fully into Group 2 Touring Car racing ,until the project was canned. Its one of the many British what-might-have-been stories of British Leyland in Motorsport. Shame as it won fans amongst those lucky enough to see Roy Pierpoint handle it.Thankfully the car is still around and a complete account of the story from the horses mouth in Peter Browning`s article
Lost Horizons :

The previous season driver ROY PIERPOINT had finished joint 7th overall and 2nd in class in the British Saloon Car Championship. He should have placed higher with 2 mopre wins but for a change of make of car from his Ford Falcon to a newer Chevy Camaro during the season. The rules stated only points would be awarded for results in a single car brand .

roverCombe

DATE : MAY 9th 1970

VENUE : CASTLE COMBE
RACE : BRSCC Hepolite-Glacer Saloon Championship
RESULT : 1st overall + fastest lap - 1min 12.0 ( 92 mph )
REPORT : Despite a flapping body panel Pierpoint guided to the Rover to its first win in only its second outing. Now fitted with front winglets for extra down force Pierpoint was kept honest by the pusuing pair of Terry Sanger ( Falcon ) and Nick May ( Escort ).

DATE : MAY 17th 1970

VENUE : SNETTERTON
RACE : Romford Enthusiasts CC non-championship Saloon Race
RESULT : DNF + fastest lap - 1min 46.4
( 91.69 mph )
REPORT : Pierpoint set pole and opened a huge lead on the Mayes Mustang and Betts Jaguar but retired on lap 7 of 8 with a stripped CWP ( crown , wheel + pinion ) after setting fastest lap.

DATE : MAY 31st 1970

VENUE : SNETTERTON
RACE : BARC Osram-GEC 100kms championship Saloon Race
RESULT : 1st overall + fastest lap - 1min 4.4 ( 89.69 mph )
REPORT : The teams finest hour ,well 45 minutes for not only did Pierpoint have to recover from starting last after a flat battery stranded the car on the start line he won by 10 seconds. This against top opposition too wih Gerry Marshall`s Viva and the Escorts of Brodie ,Hawker,Taylor and Matthews.
It also proved the Rover could be reliable.

RoverPalace

DATE : JUNE 13th 1970

VENUE : CRYSTAL PALACE
RACE : TEAC non-championship Saloon Race
RESULT : DNF + fastest lap - 1min 1.2
( 81.76 mph )
REPORT : A venue on borrowed time had a very poor entry for the saloon race ,the Rover the only car in the `big` class against eight 1-litre Minis. Pierpoint though went out to try and break Dennis Leech`s lap record but after 3 flying laps a halfshaft broke. He was 2/10th outside the record. Simon Ridge won the race.
The Rover now with its bonnet bulge blanked off and sporting Castrol stickers on the front wings.

RoverMalloryEdit

DATE : JUNE 28th 1970

VENUE : MALLORY PARK
RACE : BRSCC-M non-championship Saloon Race
RESULT : 1st overall + fastest lap - 54.2 secs
( 89.67 mph )
REPORT : No problems second time around at Mallory taking the flag from Mick Hill ( Janglia ). The photo left shows just how imaculate the Rover was prepared and a new bonnet with less obvious power bulge.
The lap time was slightly down on the faster STP Modsport cars on the same bill that day perhaps due to the nature of the circuit.

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Pierpoint v Brodie

DATE : JULY 5th 1970

VENUE : BRANDS HATCH
RACE : BARC Osram-GEC Saloon Championship
RESULT : 1st overall + joint fastest lap - 55.6 secs ( 80.29 mph )
REPORT : The big saloon race was the final race of the day and a thriller as Pierpoint had to get passed Dave Brodie ( Escort ) on lap 2 and fight him off to the flag. Gerry Marshall ( Viva ) was 3rd.
Pierpoint and Brodie both set fastest laps so close were they and this time nearly 2 seconds quicker than the fastest STP Modsport car on the day.
Brodie and Pierpoint remain friends today with equal respect for each other.

mog70

DATE : AUGUST 2nd 1970

VENUE : BRANDS HATCH
RACE : BRSCC Hepolite-Glacer Saloon Championship
RESULT : 2nd overall
REPORT : This was the first race after Rover`s announcment it wasnt going to enter Group 2 saloon racing. Pierpoint started on row 2 next to Rob Mason ( see photo ) and battled his way past both Colin Hawker and John Bloomfield ( Escorts ). However he couldnt catch a dominant Dave Brodie this time.

RoverThruxton

DATE : AUGUST 9th 1970

VENUE : THRUXTON
RACE : BARC non-Championship saloon race
RESULT : DNF - collision with Leach
REPORT : In the last race in Pierpoints hands the Rover
qualified 3rd behind a non-starting Frank Gardner
( Escort ) and Dennis Leach ( Mustang ). Pierpoint led
the pony car until Leach hit the back of the Rover at
Godwood bend on lap 2 causing some rear damage and
retirement. Dave Brodie inherited the win.

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What happened next...

Rover_no69_scan_001

With Rover`s decision not to go ahead with a Group 2 Saloon car championship assault the team had to rethink their plans. `JXC 808D`was sold on to Alec Poole ,the very gifted and staunch British Leyland racer from Ireland. He camapigned the car after selling his equally cool Mini turbo mostly on home soil around 1972 to 1973.
In the meantime the team began work on the sister car for the 84-hour at the Nurburgring.
photos by Julian Massey

`Still running to strict orders, the Rover ran faultlessly for 16 hours until the prop shaft vibration, which had started again, began to cause concern and got so bad that it was reluctantly decided to retire the car rather than risk further damage or an accident. At that time the Rover had an amazing three lap lead (57 miles) over the rest of the field.`- Peter Browning

Not only had Rover decided not to go ahead with a Group 2 Saloon car championship assault the news came that British Leyland were closing down their competitions department altogether ,a move lamented by Autosport`s editorial`Abington R.I.P. (27th Aug 1970 ). The team`s new sister car ( JXC 806D ) had just had its one and only works outing at the gruelling `Marathon-de-la-Route`84-hour race at the full 17.7 mile a lap Nurburgring. There are conflicting dates for this but it was run from wednesday August 18th to Sunday 22nd ( source Autosport ). The new Rover was pedalled by Pierpoint ,Roger Enever and Clive Baker and built up a huge lead of either 3 or 6 laps depending on different reports until it was withdrawn due to prop shaft vibration. See link for full result

the sister car...

Pierpoint2
Marathon
p6-traco-v8
FCover
RoverAus
camelrover700ja9

With no backing from BL the whole Rover V8 project ended at the end of the summer of 1970. Any future racing would have to be done out of house such as Broadspeed racing the Jaguar XJ6 and TWR the 1980`s Jaguar XJS and Rover touring cars.
`JXC 806D`was sold down under to James Smith of Australia the BL importer for 1971 who raced it in blue with white side stripes and exposed air trumpets. Then in 1973 it was tidied up and painted with smart new Camel sponsorship.
The car is still believed to be in Australia today.

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