Sign Up

Our Privacy Policy identifies how we handle personal information in accordance with the Privacy Act. Read it prior to submitting your information.

By clicking “Register” you agree to our Terms Of Use and Privacy Policy.

When Paul Radisich won the Touring Car World Cup

Before New Zealand racing legend Paul Radisich joined the Dick Johnson Racing squad for a tilt at the V8 Supercars Championship in 1999, he was a leading driver during the halcyon days of the British Touring Car Championship.

It’s three decades since the New Zealander won the first FIA Touring Car World Cup race at Monza in Italy in an Andy Rouse-prepared Ford Mondeo.

The regulation ruleset soon to be known as Super Touring was in its infancy back in 1993 as the likes of Nissan, Mazda, Toyota, BMW, Vauxhall, Peugeot and Renault joined Ford in the burgeoning British Touring Car Championship.

Rouse had been engaged by Ford to develop the Mondeo into a touring car frontrunner for 1993 after doing likewise for Toyota’s Carina the previous season.

Trialling the Mondeo in front, rear and all-wheel-drive configurations, the project was committed to late ensuring Rouse’s pair of Fords didn’t appear until mid-season. Using a 2.3-litre V6 engine used in the Ford Probe and made by Mazda, destroked to 2.0-litres mated to a front-wheel-drive layout proved a successful combo in its maiden season.

Debuting at Round 7 of the British Touring Car Championship at Pembrey, the Mondeo went onto dominate the second half of the season as Radisich secured three victories to take third in the title race despite missing the opening six events.

The Mondeo’s performance certainly was a warning shot to the competition, particularly the previously all-conquering Schnitzer BMWs as 1994 beckoned.

However, the FIA Touring Car World Cup was immediately next on the radar in October as the world’s best were entered to go head-to-head at the ‘temple of speed’.

Radisich was not the only driver from the antipodes to be entered as Australian touring car stars Tony Longhurst and Mark Skaife were drafted in. Joining the crack Team Bigazzi BMW squad was Longhurst, while Skaife joined the Castrol-backed Nissan factory squad led by fellow Australian Alan Heaphy.

These three drivers joined an impressive list of ex-Formula 1 drivers, Le Mans winners and touring car champions in a crack field. Also, add in the likes of Audi and Alfa Romeo, the field was one of the strongest since the World Touring Car Championship six years prior.

Radisich ended up taking pole and both heat wins in the Mondeo to take the inaugural FIA Touring Car World Cup.

The Australians didn’t enjoy such a successful experience as Longhurst finished a best of 14th in the second heat, while Skaife was involved in an incident to be 28th.

Just to quickly wrap this story up, the Mondeo Radisich raced was used in the French title before being bought by privateer Richard Kaye for the 1995 BTCC. It was then restored by Rouse at the end of the season to be raced in Thundersaloons and later made an appearance at the Goodwood Festival of Speed.

Of course, the next year Radisich repeated the feat at Donington Park as he went on to contest what is the BTCC’s golden period with Ford and Peugeot before returning down under for 1999.