Steve Soper

Official Site

The greatest saloon car driver of all time

- MotorSport Magazine

Metro 6R4. The prototype.

“Back in ’83 at the start of my Rover contract there was one 6R4 around which Williams was commissioned to build. There was Patrick Head and John Piper was the engineer. Austin Rover had commissioned the car with all the funny gears, 4 wheel drive and adjustable this and that. Williams and Tony Pond was doing all of the development on it and when Tony couldn’t do the test programme because he was off rallying, I was dragged in to do it. So I had driven the car on several occasions before this day. Testing was to follow the same pattern every time. I had the boring job of driving round a piece of tarmac, like a big roundabout, testing the diff’s. They would measure the diff, put the car in the air for half an hour while they changed it, then I’d drive the same piece of tarmac. It was so boring it was untrue, there was never any good stuff. So one day I turned up and there was another course, still tarmac, around this airfield where they wanted me to do diff work and suspension settings. The course was all dry except for one corner. There was a dip and therefore a big puddle in it, so every time round I had to miss it as the car was on slicks. I did this for 3 hours and as you can imagine, I got bored. So the only way to enjoy it was to push it faster and faster every time. Driving at 70 or 80% is just to monotonous. So I’m still exploring the limits when I hit the puddle. All of a sudden the car leaves the road at about 80 or 90 mph, it flies across some overgrowth into a muddy field where grass and twigs start coming in, and then it self destructs. I had John Piper next to me, we were both strapped in luckily. It took us 20 minutes to find a wheel and upright because it had gone so far after the accident. We then dragged the remains back to the service point where I decide that it may look better if I washed it. I threw a bucket of water over it and it looked worse as you could now really see the damage. It was taken back to headquarters and my boss at the time who was John Davenport, was out on a 3 hour lunch. I sat there and thought to myself that this was the first year in my first contract and he’ll think that the new boy had f****d their million pound car. I sat there untill he arrived back and he just said that it was alright these things happen, we’ll learn something from it I’m sure.”

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