ADA Group C2 – 1989 – Full history

ADA, from tuner to manufacturer

Leaders of the C2 category in the 1980s, Ian Harrower and Chris Crawford entered Group C with numerous cars, largely modified by themselves. The two partners (who had acquired ADA Engineering in 1977 from Leon Smith, Gérard Sauer and Woody Harris) timidly launched their first creation in 1982, unofficially christened ADA 01. It wasn’t until 1987 that ambitions (and resources) rose to the occasion, with the arrival of the ADA 02 and then the ADA 03, a derivative version.
In 1986, the ADA team was at the top of the C2 class: class victory at the 1986 Le Mans 24 Hours and second place in the championship (decided in the final at Fuji against the Ecurie Ecosse team). The Gebhardt JC843 that enabled these successes was optimized by the team and so thoroughly revised that it was often referred to as an ADA by observers. This had already been the case in the past, as early as 1983. Indeed, Ian Harrower and Chris Crawford had taken a Lola base and created an in-house design to dress it up, grafting on the rear suspension of a De Cadenet. This was the unofficial birth of the ADA 01, or “De Cadenet-Lola” as it was called in the official documents and programs of the day. Competing in the Sarthe, it finished 24th and unclassified, with 214 laps covered.
The desire to launch their own brand and put their badge on the body of a car became too tempting for Harrower and Crawford. With the acquisition of what was then the Fittipaldi Grand Prix team, and the move into their old premises, the duo had ambitions. They decided to build their own car for 1987, and to defend their 24 Hours of Le Mans title with an even more accomplished car. They adopted the general lines of the Gebhardt, with a chassis assembled by March Engineering in Bicester. Construction ofthe ADA 02 accelerated in 1987, with Richard Divila in charge of design. This Fittipaldi Grand Prix veteran was commissioned to develop the car quickly, as the Gebhardt JC843 (still in use pending the birth of the ADA 02) had been involved in an accident and required extensive repairs (Ian Harrower’s accident in Jerez).

ADA 02, a tumultuous start to its career

The ADA 02 arrived in July 1987 and entered Brands Hatch. Nicknamed “OZ” because that’s how it’s referred to in the official program instead of 02, the ADA 02 is powered by a 3.3-liter Cosworth DFV block. According to its creators, it was the very first car to feature this block. It impressed right from the start (despite one retirement), positioning itself among the pack of Jaguars during the race.
More races went on at the Nürburgring, then at Kyalami. There, local driver Mike Briggs loses control, hits the barriers and is sent crashing back to the middle of the track. The work required to repair the ADA 02 was major. It will be carried out in 1988. Harrower and Crawford decide to anticipate the start of the coming season, and work is already underway on a new car, the ADA 03. The ADA 02 is stored in the workshop for a while, and then the restoration work begins.
Sometimes mistaken with the ADA 02, the ADA 03 is another car.

1989, the rebirth of the ADA 02, now ADA 02-B

Repaired at March Engineering during the 1988 season while the ADA 03 was on the racetracks, and entered in the 1988 Le Mans 24 Hours, the ADA 02 returned to competition in May 1989 for the Supercup round at Silverstone. It was then often referred to by the chassis number ADA 02-B. 9th overall, the car finished third in its class in the hands of Paul Scott.
Originally part of the World Sports Car Championship calendar, the 1989 24 Hours of Le Mans is reserved for competitors with a season’s commitment. This was not the case for ADA Engineering, with its modest finances. So no ADA presence was expected. But in May, the Automobile Club de l’Ouest (ACO) and the Fédération Internationale du Sport Automobile (FISA) decided to keep Le Mans out of the championship. The “excluded” were allowed to come again, and ADA Engineering won a ticket to the race. Colin Pool (who acquired ADA 03), Laurence Bristow and Ian Harrower were partners. With a time of 3’48”800, the trio set off from the back of the grid, while all this year’s qualifiers completed a lap in under 3’36”000.
On race day, the ADA 02-B made its presence felt, losing its doors in the very first laps. On two occasions, the right-hand door separated from the chassis (at 4.35pm and againat 4.45pm). A spectator brought back one of the doors, which was reinstalled, and the car was back on the track at 6pm. Colin Pool stopped at Arnage at 6.15pm and didn’t start again until 9.54pm (a chip in the electronic control unit had gone). In the pits, the battery, ignition and shock absorbers are changed, before engine problems arise, prompting the team to declare a forfeit.

A bespoke 5.8L V6 Bonner engine for the ADA 02-B

The car was then used to develop a 5.8-liter V6. Significantly, this extremely rare engine was found in New Zealand and acquired. This engine was specially designed for the ADA 02-B, with the aim of achieving low fuel consumption in order to meet Group C fuel consumption requirements. To achieve this, it was decided that the engine block should have a low engine speed. Its creation was the fruit of collaboration between Bonner Aéronautique and ADA, since one of ADA’s shareholders had also been a shareholder in Bonner Aéronautique. It is a unique piece, bearing the number C001, and has been authenticated by its manufacturer. It is therefore possible to put this engine back in its place and thus have a unique car.
It returns to competition at the end of the year in Mexico City. The ADA 02-B is leased to the PC Automotive team (with its DFV block back in place). Final 19th place (4th in C2 class) with an excellent 1’32”203 in the race, third best time in C2.
In 1990, the car took part in the BRDC C2 championship, reserved exclusively for cars in this category. It was decided to enter it with the 5.8-liter Bonner V6 engine tested previously. The debut was impressive. The car took pole position at Donington, and the pairing of Ian Harrower and Pierre Chauvet is untouchable! The ADA 02-B overtakes every competitor and takes a lap from every opponent…before the clutch gave up.
The car was finally fitted with a DFV block (3.3-liter and also 3.9-liter). A fine 3rd place at Brands Hatch was followed by victory at Thruxton.
Then came the 1990 Le Mans 24 Hours, in which the ADA 02-B once again took part. Ian Harrower, John Sheldon and young Jerry Mahony are partners. With its 3.3-liter engine, the ADA 02-B battled hard to maintain its position in the class Top 3 as darkness set in. In the early hours of the morning, a suspension failure saw the car go into a spin. After 14 hours of racing, the car found itself trapped in a gravel trap, damaged and forced to retire.
After the 1990 Le Mans 24 Hours, the ADA 02 took part in the races at Snetterton (with contact between the ADA 02-B and the ADA 03 on the first lap), Oulton Park and finally Donington in the BRDC C2. Good results followed: 4th, 2nd and finally victorious again, the ADA 02-B ended its career with another success… or almost. Its last appearance on the track was in Tampa, as part of the IMSA GTP championship. With Pierre Chauvet, the car didn’t finish (crash) but competed with the best, then in a C1 configuration with a 3.5-liter engine.

A car that received a great deal of attention from its subsequent owners

The ADA 02-B was kept in England before being entered in 2006 by Gary Pearson in the historic Group C races. In June 2006, Gary Pearson drove it to a 4th place scratch finish in the Brands Hatch race. At the time, the car sported a yellow livery. Mr. Michel Ghio acquired the car from John Pearson in 2012. Esprit Compétition then carried out extensive work on the car at Le Castellet, before it returned to the track in 2015 in Group C Racing for Spa Classic and the Dix Mille Tours du Castellet. During the test phases (as in 1989) the door proved to be fickle… since then, a modification has been made to ensure that it stays firmly in place at high speed.
Our ADA 02-B was then acquired by a French collector, who had it fully restored before selling it to the current owner via Ascott Collection.

Three seasons at the highest level in historic Group C2

Over the last three seasons from 2019 to 2021, the ADA 02-B has established itself as one of the leading cars in the Group C2 Championship organized by Peter Auto.Both reliable and fast, the “orange arrow” won 4 races and achieved 9 podium finishes in the C2 category, even reaching the scratch podium on several occasions!These results were made possible by the talent of its drivers and the top-level preparation of the car by Burgol Racing.
During the 2021/2022 off-season, ADA received a complete overhaul.In order to benefit from maximum engine potential, the 3.5-liter Cosworth DFZ V8 was entrusted to Swiss engine-maker Mader, who carried out the overhaul, and a new crack-test was carried out. The car is now ready to race.

Race entered (since 2019)

Race started: 14
Podium finish: 9
Victory: 4