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  Emka 84C/1 Aston Martin
 

  Article Image gallery (21) MC 02-84C Specifications  
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Country of origin:Great Britain
Produced in:1985
Numbers built:1
Designed by:Len Bailey
Predecessor:Emka 83C/1 Aston Martin
Author:Wouter Melissen
Last updated:April 26, 2021
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Click here to download printer friendly versionFamously the manager of music group Pink Floyd, Steve O'Rourke was also a passionate gentleman driver. He first raced at Le Mans in 1979 and then formed his own racing team, Emka Racing in 1981. Like his day-to-day business, it was named after his first two daughters Emma and Kate. Having raced a Group 5 BMW in 1981 and then a Williams Grand Prix car in 1982, O'Rourke embarked on his most ambitious project yet; constructing a Group C car for the 1983 season.

Having secured backing from Aston Martin as engine supplier, Emka Racing commissioned experienced engineer Len Bailey of Ford GT40 fame to design a bespoke machine that complied with the newly introduced Group C regulations. It was assembled at the facility of partner company Michael Cane Racing around an aluminium monocoque that was constructed by noted chassis builder Maurice (Mo) Gomm. The manufacturing of the fibreglass bodywork was outsourced to another specialist, Protoco.

Bailey laid down a straightforward machine with rocker-actuated in-board suspension on all four corners. This freed up room for the ground-effect tunnels that were placed on either side of the engine. The Tickford-tuned Aston Martin engine was based on the production quad-cam V8. The naturally aspirated unit produced around 600 bhp. It was mated to a Hewland five-speed gearbox and served as a fully stressed member of the chassis. The Emka Group C care featured a cab-forward cockpit and sported a very typical point on the nose to split the airflow into the two tunnels.

Dubbed the Emka 83C/1, the new Group C car made its debut at the 1983 Silverstone 1000 km. Entered for O'Rourke himself, Jeff Allam and Tiff Needell, it failed to reach the finish due to a wheel bearing failure in the last lap. The next out was at Le Mans where Nick Faure took Allam's place behind the wheel. Pitched against a fleet of Porsche 956s, the Emka qualified 25th and finished 17th overall, making it the highest placed car. Crucially, it beat the similarly engined Nimrod Aston Martin.

For the 1984 season, a 15% reduction in fuel allotment was announced. This would have a particularly detrimental effect on the Emka and its thirsty Aston Martin V8. The team was also affected with a lack of sponsors, so opted to sit out the season. The regulations were reverted the following year, and the Emka was back. A new car was constructed at Michael Cane Racing, using some components of the 1983 machine. Now known as the 84C/1, it boasted revised rear suspension and re-designed bodywork, which no longer used ground-effect aerodynamics.

Emka Racing once again used the Silverstone 1000 km to debut the new 84C/1. Another suspension failure caused the car to retire just like its predecessor had done two years earlier. Next up was Le Mans, where the Emka actually led the race for a couple of minutes during the second hour. Eventually, the team had to settle for eleventh overall, having been beaten only by eight Porsches and the works Lancias. The 84C/1 was also raced later in the year at Spa and Brands Hatch but engine related issues resulted in two retirements.

O'Rourke had come to the conclusion that there was little room for independent privateers at the sharp end of Group C and took a break from international racing. He returned to racing during the early 1990s when GT racers came to the fore once more. Not raced in period again, both Emka Group C cars have survived and have made rare appearances in historic Group C events.

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  Article Image gallery (21) MC 02-84C Specifications