Richard Parry-Jones, Ford’s former vehicle development boss, wouldn’t have known he was laying the foundations for a one-make race series when he developed the original Ford Ka ahead of its 1996 launch. But a quarter of a century later, here I am, sandwiched between two other Ford Kas, travelling down Oulton Park’s start-finish straight at a modest lick, wondering which of us, if any, will blink before we all pile into the Cheshire track’s fourth-gear first corner with a dab of brake, a flick of steering and an actual four-wheel drift through the apex. There’s no way we’re all getting through there at race speed, that’s for sure.
Suddenly the RaceKa seems like a no-brainer: affordable and abundant, fun to chuck through corners like it might not emerge from the other side, mechanically tough and with huge bumpers for the inevitable thumps here and there. Everything that made the Ka a hit on its launch translates perfectly to the EnduroKa series.
Run by Motorsport Vision Racing, EnduroKa is now in its second season and follows the Citroën C1 championship as a fun, affordable and highly competitive path into motorsport. The rules would have even Adrian Newey boxed into a corner; it’s open only to same-spec first-generation Kas with tightly controlled upgrades. A tongue-in-cheek livery is recommended (bravo team Kastrol), if optional.
We bagged an arrive-and-drive seat with LDR Performance Tuning, but it’s possible to buy and self-prep a car for £4000-£5000, and because these are long races requiring multiple drivers, you’ll be splitting the entry fee (£925 for Oulton Park) with your pals. The EnduroKa’s delayed season started with the 12 Heures du Norfolk at Snetterton, with this Oulton round lasting five hours. Qualifying was first thing Saturday, with racing scheduled from early afternoon.
I’d only ever watched peak-1990s British Touring Car racing at Oulton before, so the 15 minutes I had for qualifying were my first laps of the track. I built up slowly and… fell in love with the place.
Oulton is a fast, sweeping, cambered track that flows organically with the tumbling Cheshire landscape into which it’s carved, punishes small mistakes (grass and barriers are your run-offs) and just happens to suit the underpowered but light and playful Ka perfectly. Every corner is taken in either third or fourth gear, and while it sounds daft to be talking about adrenaline rushes in a city car with an unmodified 1.3-litre engine and rear drum brakes, you can carry momentum and induce slides that will have your eyes out on stalks. The Kas lock brakes and oversteer easily, and they require a deft touch if you’re to extract the maximum from them; it’s easy to overdrive and get scrappy.