Last month we reached a bit of a milestone; the new race engine was fired up for the very first time in its new home. No matter how many engines you fit, there’s always a sense of excitement (and a few nerves) when you first flick the switch to turn it over. Thankfully the meticulous preparation paid off, and the immediately YB sprang into life. Then it continued to idle perfectly, never skipping a single beat while I anxiously watched and kept an eye out for any leaks as everything came up to temperature. All was as it should be, so I let out a huge sigh of relief… then looked at the rest of the ‘to-do’ list and realised I couldn’t sit around revelling in the glory, there was work to be done…

The bulk of that work was now on the inside. One such job was finishing off the braking system. Yes, the calipers and discs had all been previously installed when I was working underneath the car, but I still needed to plumb everything in. But before I could do that, I needed to fit the new pedal box. This unit is mounted on the bulkhead, like the original Sierra part, but has separate brake reservoirs for the front and rear brake circuits, and and adjuster that allows you to alter the braking bias between the two. There’s also a line-lock too.

With the bias pedal box mounted in place, I could then start to run all the brake lines, which are now all tidily routed through the cabin for ease of maintenance and to prevent any damage. They’re not your usual cooper pipe though; I ordered a load of -4 braided brake hose from Torques UK, along with a load of fittings, and made all the brake lines up myself. It’s a lengthy job, but it means I can route everything in the best possible place. Plus, it means all the fixings are removeable and reusable, so if we ever do have an issue it’s easy to repair just the part that has the problem. With all the lines in place, it was just a case of bleeding the brakes and making sure all air was purged from the system.

After that, and while I was busy getting the Benson & Hedges RS500 ready for its next outing, I sent the Caltex car to Philloy for the custom alloy firewall panels in the back. Philloy is just up the road from me, and I’ve used their stuff on my cars for years so I know it’s top quality. I told Phil what I needed, and a week later the car was ready to collect, now complete with the made-to-measure alloy panels that completely cover the fuel tank and system mounted in the boot – remember, unlike when it was a track car and I refuelled from the boot, as a race car it now has duel fuel fillers (one either side) for fast refuelling.

Despite being busy with other RS500 race cars (including a few trips abroad to support the races), the finishing line was agonisingly close, so I pulled a few late nights to get the new Sparco race seat and harnesses fitted (which needed replacing with a new one with current FIA date stamp), I finished the wiring on all the gauges, installed the fire extinguisher system, and I even swapped the old Sparco steering wheel for a new OMP one with quick-release fitting.

I’m sure there are few more fiddly things that will rear their heads before the car is finally ready for track, but we’re getting close to testing now. Who knows, maybe the next update will report back on the car returning to track for the first time as a Group A racer…?