JC Returns!

In recent weeks the Midland hillclimb scene has seen the return of one of the most competitive drivers, and one of the most committed hillclimb families, as a very heavily re-developed car has made its first appearance for a few seasons.

John Chalmers Ralt F302

John & Jamie Chalmers prepare for another run with the Ralt during testing at Curborough.


Warwickshire 2-litre runner John Chalmers has spent the past couple of years installing a very special new engine into his familiar Ralt F302 chassis, the car with which he took the Shelsley Walsh 2-litre class record in 2011, and after a difficult development period has made a return to the hills.

The Ralt, produced by Steve Ward for the British Formula 3 championship in 2002, features a carbon tub with pushrod suspension all-round and a unique Ralt-built gearbox. We first saw the Ralt on the hills in 2006, when Chalmers debuted the car with the Cosworth BDG engine which remained in the car until 2011. Incidentally, when the F302 was first shaken down at Pembrey in early 2002, the driver was a certain Andy Priaulx!

Since the motorcycle engine revolution in the 2-litre class, Chalmers had been on the look-out for a new motor and after a long search he discovered the impressive Suzuki-based Mussett Engine, produced by the Norfolk based Mussett Technology Group. The 1400cc turbo engine is a bespoke crankcase with Suzuki Hayabusa based barrels and cylinder head. Chalmers is running the power plant on Motec engine management.

The installation of this engine is another interesting factor; the engine runs through the Ralt’s bespoke F3 gearbox and mounts on a standard Ford/Cosworth adaptor plate.

As a member of the illustrious Lane family (John is the Son in Law of the late, great Roy Lane), John gets lots of support for his hillclimbing and the whole family have been desperate to get back out on the hills. John and son Jamie have burned a lot of midnight oil installing the Mussett and all of the required ancillaries into the Ralt’s engine bay and the installation looks lovely.

Initial running when testing at Curborough, and then events at Shelsley Walsh and Prescott have seen the expected niggles that a new package inevitably provides. A lot of progress has been made however, and the engine is becoming more driveable by the run, so it shouldn’t be too long before John can unleash all of the motor’s prodigious horsepower.

Very well done to John, Jamie and Julie for persevering with this project, and producing yet another different hillclimb challenger to entertain us all!

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