In this edition of BTCC Greats we look back on the career of one of the championship’s most successful drivers, Andy Rouse.
Much of his early years were spent as an apprentice for a engineering company before he began funding his own motorsport career by working for Broadspeed. The car engineering company set-up by Ralf Broad. Rouse’s engineering and driving talent soon became apparent to Broad, who then encouraged his motorsport career by providing him with assistance to race in other championships upon which he was successful within.
Rouse entered the series in 1973 off the back of his first season in saloon car racing, clinching the Ford Escort Mexico series of 1972. The BTCC at this point was still under the class structure, meaning that from three or four different classes there would only be one overall champion. In his first season, Rouse was at the wheel of the Ford Escort RS and clinched Class C honours although sadly it was only good enough for third in the overall championship.
In 1974 Rouse moved to the wheel of a Triumph Dolomite Sprint but had to play second fiddle in the championship even though he won Class B. The 1975 season however proved to be the breakthrough that Rouse was looking for as he secured his maiden title. Pure domination in his class and the overall championship gave Rouse the crown although he struggled to defend it a year later.
For the late 70’s and early 80’s, Rouse jumped from team to team without scoring any meaningful results until in 1981, Broadspeed pulled themselves out of the championship and soon fell into liquidation. This then allowed Rouse himself to set up his Andy Rouse Engineering company, with many former Broadspeed employees joining him into what turned into a successful team.
Two years were spent with Ford Capris and Rouse was able to deliver a string of third place overall finishes. However in 1983, the domination of Rouse really began, firstly at the wheel of a Alfa Romeo GTV6. Even though he missed the first three meetings of the season, Rouse took six victories and class B honours which translated to a second overall crown. Rouse repeated the feat for the 84′ & 85′ seasons at the wheel of a Rover Vitesse and Ford Sierra XR4Ti. The now four-time champion took a total of 16 victories in the two year period to establish himself as one of the greats. Not only was three titles in a row a record but it was also the first time that a driver has achieved the feat in three different cars.
As the series grew in stature, Rouse became a figure head of the sport and was seen as the man to beat, even when he wasn’t defending champion. The 1985 season proved to be the last time he would be crowned BTCC champion however the veteran did take a string of third place finishes in the championship. In 1992, Rouse continued a partnership with the late Will Hoy at Toyota although the two years spent with the Carina were filled with dismay. Four victories fell the way of the four time champion however many fans will remember the moment when he and Hoy tangled at Brands Hatch sending them both into the armco barrier.
The year of 1993 saw Rouse set up a works Ford Mondeo team which debuted at the mid-point of the season. It was Rouse himself who would take to the wheel as well as running the team and the four time champion elected Paul Radisich to be his team mate. As the year progressed their results improved and Rouse was able to achieve a second place in the final race of the year.
It was the 1994 season that would prove to be Rouse’s final year in the championship. After having half a season development in the car, Rouse had several good finishes in his Mondeo with his best being a third place. A final championship finish of 11th proved to be his last debacle in the series and Rouse drafted in Kelvin Burt to be Radisch’s team mate for the 95′ season.
Since his retirement from the championship, Rouse has spent several years promoting his Supercar V8 proposal which saw a spaceframe chassis filled with a V8 engine for saloon cars. The championship however has yet to materialize in the UK.
Rouse had also held the record for the most amount of race victories (60) until at Brands Hatch in 2011, Jason Plato clinched two wins and now sits with 76 where the double champion is still adding to his tally. Rouse is still however the only driver still to have won four drivers titles in the championship.
In next weeks BTCC Greats, we look back on the glittering career of the former BTCC and WTCC champion Gabriele Tarquini who is still racing at the highest level.
PHOTO CREDIT: btcc.net