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The Ford C100 was a sports racing car, initially built and run as a Group 6 car, but later as a Group C car. The C100 was built by Ford Motor Company in 1981, and initially featured a 4-litre Cosworth DFL V8 engine, which was replaced by a 3.3-litre version of the same engine in 1983, after the car had passed to private hands. Five cars are known to have been built. Although the cars were often very quick in qualifying, reliability problems plagued them, and restricted their successes to two Deutsche Rennsport Meisterschaft victories in 1982, and a single Thundersports victory in 1983.

Racing history

1981

Ford Motor Company developed and built a single C100 in 1981, and fitted the car with a 4-litre Cosworth DFL V8 engine. Although Ford attempted to enter the car in the 1981 24 Hours of Le Mans, they did not actually attend the event; instead, the car made its debut at the Brands Hatch 1000 km three months later. Manfred Winkelhock and Klaus Ludwig were selected to drive the works-entered car, and took a debut pole by 1.1 seconds from the works Lola T600 of Guy Edwards and Emilio de Villota. Unfortunately for Ford, a gearbox failure forced the car out after 40 laps, and the Edwards/de Villota Lola went on to win the race.

1982

For 1982, four further cars were built, and the cars were used in both the Deutsche Rennsport Meisterschaft (DRM), and the FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC). In his C100, which had now been reclassified as a Group C car, Ludwig opened the 1982 season with a retirement at Zolder, which held the opening round of the DRM, before taking tenth in the second round, held at Hockenheimring (although he had retired after 17 laps, he had completed enough to be classified.) Ford Germany ran one C100 at the 1000 km Monza, which opened the WEC season; Winkelhock, Ludwig and Marc Surer drove C100 #02, although Ford had also initially entered Surer alongside Klaus Niedzwiedz in C100 #03 as a second entry. Yet again, however, the C100 retired; this time due to overheating after 18 laps. Ludwig then missed the Nürburgring round of the DRM, whilst Surer and Niedzwiedz both missed the 6 Hours of Silverstone. However, Winkelhock and Ludwig did attend the latter event, and became the first drivers to finish a race with the C100; eighth, and fifth in the Group C category, was where they finished. The pair retired again in the 1000 km Nürburgring, having suffered a differential failure after 31 laps, but this was enough to classify them in twentieth. The 24 Hours of Le Mans proved to be even less successful; Ford entered four cars, but only two ever competed. Surer and Ludwig drove the C100 #04 chassis, whilst Winkelhock and Niedzwiedz drove the C100 #03 chassis, but both retired due to electrical failure after 71 and 67 laps respectively. Two C100s were entered at the Norisring round of the DRM, with Winkelhock and Ludwig being selected to drive them. Winkelhock brought his car home in second place, for the C100's first podium, finishing one second behind the Porsche 956 of Jochen Mass, whilst Ludwig finished in eighth, two laps behind the leading duo. The next round, held at Hockenheimring, saw Ludwig go one better than Winkelhock's performance at Norisring, as he won the race by just under five seconds from Niedzwiedz in a Zakspeed Capri Turbo, although Winkelhock retired due to ignition problems after 11 laps. The DRM then held its third Hockenheim round of the season, but Ludwig retired with transmission problems after 28 laps. The C100 then returned to international competition in the 1000 km Spa, where Surer and Ludwig drove the #05 car, and Winkelhock partnered Niedzwiedz in the #03 car. Once again, however, it was unsuccessful; the Surer/Ludwig car retired due to fuel pump failure after 124 laps, whilst the other C100 finished the race, but only completed 123 laps, and was classified in eighteenth overall, ninth in the Group C category. Two C100s were entered in the DRM season finale, once again held at Nürburgring; however only one actually raced, and Ludwig drove it to victory, beating Niedzwiedz's Capri by over 37 seconds. Ford ended the season by entering three cars at the Brands Hatch 1000 km; Surer, Ludwig and Winkelhock in C100 #03, Winkelhock and Niedzwiedz in C100 #05, whilst Jonathan Palmer and Desiree Wilson were entered in C100 #04. The C100s were dominant in qualifying, with the Surer/Ludwig/Winkelhock car taking pole, and the Winkelhock/Niedzwiedz car taking second; the works Lancia LC1s in third and fourth were nearly two seconds slower, although the Palmer/Wilson C100 was qualified in eighth. Although the Winkelhock/Niedzwiedz car was badly damaged in an enormous accident after four laps, both of the other C100s finished; Palmer and Wilson brought their car home in fourth, and second in class, whilst the Surer/Ludwig/Winkelhock car finished directly behind them. Ludwig was the highest placed C100 driver in both the WEC and the DRM, as he finished joint-39th in the WEC, with eleven points, and fourth in the DRM, with 83 points.

1983

For 1983, Ford pulled the plug on the C100 program, and sold C100 #04 to Peer Racing, who promptly replaced the 4-litre Cosworth DFL engine with a 3.3-litre version. Peer Racing entered David Kennedy and Martin Birrane in the new Thundersports series, but the pair crashed out of the season opener, held at Brands Hatch. They then attempted to enter the 1000 km Silverstone, which was part of the WEC, but did not attend the event. The team then entered the second Brands Hatch round of the Thundersports season, and took second, finishing a lap down on the Lola T530-Chevrolet Can-Am of John Foulston and Brian Cocks. François Migault joined the team for the 24 Hours of Le Mans, but a fuel pressure problem forced the team into retirement after 16 laps. Kennedy and Birane then retired again in the Thruxton round of the Thundersports series, after a puncture caused the suspension to fail after nine laps. Jim Crawford replaced Birrane at Donington Park, and the car took its last ever victory, winning by a lap over the Lola T594-Mazda of Pete Lovett and Jeff Allam. This would also prove to be the car's last ever finish; an accident in practice prevented Birrane and Kennedy from running the car in the Brands Hatch 1000 km, whilst Kennedy and Rupert Keegan crashed out of the final race of the Thundersports season, also held at Brands Hatch. This proved to be the last time a C100 was entered in a major race.

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