BTCC greats rate a reimagined Super Saloons tussle

Steve Soper and Robb Gravett are two British Touring Car Championship legends who aren’t shy in reliving memories of glory days in creative ways. That’s how the new set from Scalextric – Super Saloons made for a perfect fantasy mini battle

BTCC greats rate a reimagined Super Saloons tussle

“It’s certainly one of my favourite cars.” That’s quite an endorsement from touring car legend Steve Soper, who isn’t short of choices when it comes to racing machines from his long and successful career. But the Ford Sierra RS 500, which he drove in the late 1980s in the British Touring Car Championship and across the globe, holds a special place for him and with fans.

“At the time the car was fantastic, it was just in a different league than anything else out there,” recalls Soper, whose 1988 Eggenberger Motorsport Texaco-liveried model is part of a new set from Scalextric – Super Saloons.

The set features not one, but two versions of the much-loved car, with Robb Gravett’s 1990 championship-winning example also included. Three decades later, the competitive edge remains as the pair tried out the new set. “We’ve always been good friends and we still are,” says Soper – although that didn’t stop both from saying they had won on the day.

Gravett adds: “Steve is still very competitive, always was, and when we were doing the photographs, Steve was always trying to push his car slightly ahead of my car! It’s very nice that they [Scalextric] should consider making that car and I know they spent quite a lot of time trying to get the details as correct as they could. I think they’ve done a good job.”

 

Photo by: Gary Hawkins

Gravett’s model is well known for having no major sponsor, a legacy of payments not being made during the season, forcing the Trakstar Motorsport team to operate on a shoestring budget.

“We were out all the time trying to find people to come in and support us,” recalls Gravett. “What we used to do in qualifying is to go out, do three laps, hope you put it on pole and I would come in and we’d be looking to see whether I needed to go out again. That’s how tight we were [with money]. Every lap we did in the car was a lap we felt potentially you may not do in the race because the car was so quick, all the components were lifed heavily.”

Despite the financial setbacks, Gravett took nine wins from 13 races, with prize money helping the team to continue on a race-by-race basis and secure the title. “We effectively as a private company went against the establishment with that car and we beat the factory cars,” says Gravett. “Very few people have done that in the past and that was all to do with not just me but with the team. It’s amazing the people years later that talk to me about what we did 30 years ago.”

Soper only competed in four UK events with his car during the 1988 season, but took a win at Thruxton and two runner-up positions at Brands Hatch and Donington Park, while the Birmingham race was cancelled. There was also further success in the European Touring Car Championship where he finished runner-up before he embarked on a career with BMW that would lead to more victories.

The 71-year-old got behind the wheel of an ex-Eggenberger Sierra a couple of years ago. “I drove one of the cars at Goodwood to do a demo and I did actually think it was going to drive not very well,” he admits. “I thought I would be disappointed with it compared with everything else I’ve driven since, but actually even two years ago it felt fantastic. The amount of horsepower it had and the way it drove, steered and braked. It really felt good. Every time you drove the car it put a smile on your face.”

 

Photo by: Gary Hawkins

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