Wayback in 2015 we concentrated on a series of articles about so-called motorsport failures. Most of it was about the World Sports Car Championship of the early nineties, when manufacturers switched from the original fuel formula regulations to the 3500cc naturally aspirated engine regulation. Of course, it was mainly about privateers such as Brun Racing, BRM or Konrad Motorsport as they were the ones truly affected by the move as only Mercedes failed there but not for budget or development reason.
Surprisingly and in November 2019, Geoff Kingston made contact with us after reading the article we wrote back then about the Konrad KM-011 which he did design back in the days. After a few emails and finally taking the time to put it together, here are a few words from the man behind the car. Enjoy, and thanks for your time Geoff.
Geoff, thank you for coming back to me but first for having taken the time to read my original post about the car, I’ve put up a little list of questions which I would like you to possibly answer? This would help to shed some light on yourself, the car and design.
HMSC – To start with, can you give us a little background on yourself, CV in motorsport and correct me if I’m wrong but would you be the TWR Jaguar Sport Geoff Kingston but also Alain Menu BTCC man from 1992 as well? Therefore I would also think you’re still involved in the sport and touring cars, still a BTCC boy?
GK – Yes that’s me! Recently 2015 to 2017 I was with Speedworks as chief engineer and race engineer to Tom Ingram, we had a great deal of success. Since then its been GT racing, with a GT4 Mclaren and GT3 Mercedes. I originally started in 1982 with Richard Owen Design and Engineering of Shrike fame in Sports 2000 before a spell with the Toleman Formula One team in 1984 and 1985. I then moved to TWR Jaguar Sport as an assistant to Tony Southgate and that was my real start into sports car.
HMSC – How did you get involved with the Konrad effort at the time? If switching from an operation such as the TWR one, what did bring you there, I could imagine that the possibility to design your own car and the Lamborghini engine were all part of that decision but to what extent?
GK – I actually had left TWR in early 1990 when Ross Brawn took over. I went to Spice who were running the 3.5L Cosworth engine in C1, they ran into financial issues after blowing up 5 engines at Dijon…. So then I moved to Tom’s Toyota doing the last 3 races with the C1 car, I had Jonny Dumfries and Roberto Ravaglia as drivers. As the season ended John Thompson approached me to design the Konrad and off I went.
HMSC – How were things looking in terms of development and how much resources did Konrad and Lamborghini did put into the project?
GK – It was Franz Konrad behind it with Walter Wolf’s money, of course it was a tiny effort in comparison to the cars it was going to be competing with and I drew all the car on my own… To give you a fair comparison, we did one day in the wind tunnel while at Jaguar we were testing one week each month for nine months of the year.
HMSC – We heard rumors that the car was basically a “better” version of a 962 and so on given that Konrad had been racing these for a while but I would presume the story to be completely different, tell us about the chassis and aero concept.
GK – No not really, the 962 was never an area of inspiration, in fact it is a very different car in every area. The Konrad had inboard damper actuated by pushrods, rockers, and had a `watts link anti roll bar. Cooling was from a front mounted radiator; actually, this feature was unusual as it had two ducts running each side of the rad exhausting into the screen base area. This was to work with a very low rear deck height, as all prototype cars have become. Last and obvious, the underwing was massively different for the V12 Lambo to the flat 6 Porker, so no not in any way comparable.
HMSC – Back in those years, how was it for you to work on this project in terms of responsibility? World Sports Car did look bright in some aspects for 1991 even though the new formula would of course crash but you’ve made your own car and design along people like Ross Brawn and such at the time, not everybody can claim that.
GK – The regs did allow small manufactures to `have a go’ at making their own cars, and in my case it was the first complete design I’d ever attempted. A Group C car with a Lamborghini Formula One engine….pretty ambitious. To be honest it was probably a bit too soon but as you say it existed and with other things yes I’m proud of that.
HMSC – On the World Sports Car, do you think the FISA and Formula One Management duly killed it at the time or do you think it could have worked?
GK – When engine regulations were pushed to 3500cc naturally aspirated engines that was the start of the end for the fuel formula regulations and of course the engines being used were derived from road car engines, manufacturers really like that, as opposed to the new regulations.
HMSC – With more than 30 years in the sport, how do you see this project?
GK – Very different times, to be competitive today takes an enormous amount of resource for research and development; maybe if I was in my prime and only about 35 I would do it again.
Geoff Kingston – Motorsport CV Summary
1982-1984 Richard Owen Design & Engineering
- 1983 British Sport 2000 Champions
1984-1985 Toleman Formula One Group – Detail design draughtsman
1985-1989 TWR Jaguar Sport – Assistant designer to Tony Southgate
- 1987 World Sports Car Championship Winner
- 1988 Le Mans 24 Hours Winner
1989-1990 Spice Engineering – Race engineer
1990-1991 Toyota TOMS – Race engineer
1991 TWR Jaguar Sport – XJ220 Senior engineer
1991 TC Prototypes – Konrad KM-011 Designer
1991-1993 Toyota TOMS – Wind tunnel engineer
1994 TC Prototypes – Designer
- 1995 Honda NSX LM24 GT2 Class Winner
And ever since then involvement in Touring Cars and BTCC, GTs and still going!