Tony Pond

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Tony Pond
Personal information
Nationality United Kingdom British
Born (1945-11-23)November 23, 1945
Died February 7, 2002(2002-02-07) (aged 56)
World Rally Championship record
Active years 1974–1986
Teams Triumph, Talbot, Nissan, MG Rover
Rallies 27
Championships 0
Rally wins 0
Podiums 2
Stage wins 37
Total points 68

Tony Pond (23 November 1945 – 7 February 2002) was a well-known British rally driver.

Career[edit]

His first outings in a rally car were on the then regular (in the early '60s) Saturday night road rallies in the home counties around London, driving a Mini Cooper S. Using the same car he also became successful at auto-testing – the practice of manoeuvering the car against the clock around a series of cones.

He then prepared a Lotus Cortina for an attempt on the Lombard RAC Round Britain Rally, and was running in the top twenty when a visit to a ditch in icy conditions put an end to the outing.

At this time Ford had launched the Mexico Rally Championship, and Pond persuaded the local Ford dealer in his home town, Norman Reeves of Uxbridge, to prepare and supply a car for the Championship. He finished second overall, the reward for which was a drive in a works supported Escort RS1600 on the Scottish International Rally. He finished in the top ten, which was enough incentive for Norman Reeves to prepare and supply him with an ex-factory Escort RS1600 for a season.

Using this car he was a regular top ten finisher in the British Rally Championship, competing against and beating the likes of Jimmy McRae (Colin's father) and Russell Brookes, culminating in a third place on the Welsh International Rally in 1973, beating Tony Fall into fourth place. At this time Fall was competitions manager for the Dealer Opel Team (DOT), and the offer of a works supported drive was not long in coming.

Unfortunately, although DOT and Pond were successful with the 2 litre Opel Kadett, General Motors had taken the decision to stop selling Opels in the UK and concentrate on the Vauxhall brand, and so DOT was disbanded. However he was almost immediately approached by British Leyland to take on the venerable Triumph TR7. 1976 until 1978, saw him in the Triumph then in 1979 he championed a Talbot Sunbeam Lotus before returning to the TR7 in 1980, completing a number of outings for the British Leyland factory team.

Around 1979-1982 he also often visited South Africa on weekends to pilot the factory-entered Datsun Stanza, with navigator Richard Leeke, in the SA National Rally Championship as Datsun's (later Nissan SA) number 1 driver. In 1981 he won the Radio 5 Rally outright against stiff competition like Geoff Mortimer in a Chevrolet Chevair and Jan Hettema, a double-Springbok, in a Toyota Corolla.

Pond driving a Talbot Sunbeam Lotus at the 1979 Manx International Rally.

1981 through to the end of 1984 had Pond competing with varying success in a varied selection of cars, including the Datsun Violet, Vauxhall Chevette HSR, Nissan Violet and the Nissan 240RS. For season 1985, Pond was recruited by the Austin Rover dealer team to drive the Group B MG Metro 6R4. He stayed with the Austin Rover team until 1986 when the Group B formula was cancelled and the cars banned after a number of fatal accidents.

In 1988 Pond and Rover attempted to achieve the first ever average 100 mph lap around the Isle of Man TT Motor Bike race circuit in a standard production car namely a Rover Vitesse – however they were unsuccessful, largely due to wet weather on the mountain section of the course. On his second attempt on the 6th June 1990 he teamed up again with Austin Rover and achieved immortality by taking a standard production car, a Rover 827 Vitesse, and became the first ever production car and driver to average over 100 mph around the Isle of Man TT Motor Bike Circuit. This record stood until 2011.[1]

Pond more or less retired from Rallying at the end of 1986, however he was far from idle, being retained on Austin Rover's books as a development driver – he was instrumental in the design and production of the MG F.

Throughout his life he was also a keen motorcyclist, riding fast road bikes as well as trials bikes successfully.

Tony Pond succumbed to cancer in 2002 and is survived by his wife, Nikki, and son, James. [2] [3]

References[edit]

External links[edit]