The Ford ‘Turbo-Capri’ sporting Group 5 trim is a legend. This powerhouse used to mark milestones in the former DRM: in 1981, Klaus Ludwig crowned several years of development work by the Zakspeed team with the ‘German Rennsport’ championship title. Consequently, the brief Group 5 heyday remained unforgotten with fans – and the Capri in their hearts. After the Berlin-based Mücke squad has been fielding the legendary Ludwig Capri for a number of years, touring car enthusiasts are now being treated to a double dose of joy as the second ready-to-race Capri is returning to the track at the AvD Oldtimer Grand Prix. Harald Ertl’s former racing car is fielded in the Touring Car Classics by Rüddel Racing, a team that has long-standing experience with historic Ford models.
600 horsepower and a dry weight of 800 kg. The ‘Turbo-Capri’ is a powerhouse with amazing performance, in which the racing know-how of the late 70s is paired with rigorous aerodynamics and lightweight design. For Mike Stursberg, who is sharing driving duties in the ‘freshly restored’ Ertl-Capri with Heinz Schmersal, it was practically love at first sight: “After the first test at Zolder, I called Klaus Ludwig and told him ‘you were totally crazy back then,’” Stursberg says with a grin. “That must have been a brutal era. Driving this car is truly an honour.” Even though a few details still had to be sorted after this initial test, he already had a pretty good picture of how driving it felt. “The way driving this car feels compares well with driving a modern racing car, but you have to work a lot harder at it than today,” he says. “The steering wheel, the brake pedal pressure, the heat – everything is a lot harder to handle than today. I was really bushed when I got out of the car after the test at Zolder.” Another Capri driver – Peter Mücke – can confirm the car’s superior performance as well. The seasoned team boss with many DTM, GT and single-seater races under his belt says: “Considering the fact that we’re driving a car from 1980 and that a large number of engineers have been working on the evolution of motor racing since then, that’s truly amazing. Even though we’re competing with DTM cars from 2006 here, we’re in contention – if anyone, during my days as a DTM team boss, had told me that a DRM Capri is competitive against these cars I’d have suggested they take a drug test.”
Rüddel-Capri: finally back on the race track
The fact that now Mücke is no longer the only owner of a ready-to-race Turbo-Capri can, not least, be credited to team boss Robert Rüddel. Following many historic racing commitments, he had the opportunity to add the Capri to his line-up. “We knew that the vehicle was in a museum in Speyer and were engaged in negotiations with the owners for a year and a half before being able to acquire the Capri in 2018,” he relates. “Afterwards we had a lot of work on our hands because the car had been converted for hill-climb competitions at the time. We reconverted it to the original Group 5 specification.” The fact that the team had experience with Ford DBA engines, which provide the base for the Capri’s power-plant as well, helped him in this effort. Rüddel’s father had already contested races in the Escort in the 70s and the team has been relying on this tradition-steeped model up to now as well. “But even though we know quite a bit about BDA engines, we had to break a lot of new ground,” the team principal says in retrospect. That Zakspeed still had know-how and parts was of help too. As a result, a new chassis and body parts came from the team’s base in Niederzissen.
After the inital test, the AvD Oldtimer Grand Prix marks the first fielding in a race. Consequently, Mike Stursberg plays down expectations: “Our main goal is to finish. In comparison with the Mücke-Capri, it can be assumed that we’re not yet in contention because we’re still lacking experience and are probably a bit short on performance too.“ Even so, his fellow Ford Capri entrants welcome the addition: “Of course, the second Capri on the track enhances the field,” says Peter Mücke. “After all, driving wouldn’t be fun without competition.” However, the seasoned driver and team boss from Berlin cannot betray the fact that he’s a real racer when he says with a grin: “Of course, competition means anyone driving around you on the track.”