- November 23, 1945
- February 07, 2002
- United Kingdom
- Not Active
Tony Pond (1945-2002) was one of the most loved and most charismatic British rally drivers. He was active from the 1960s to early 1990s, leaving an unforgettable trail in British rallying but also recording some remarkable results on the international scene. He made 27 starts in the World Rally Championship, scoring two podiums.
First international success in the Mexican rally championship
Pond started his career in 1967, driving a Mini Cooper S in road rallying. He gets an international attention for the first time in 1972, finishing in the second place in the Ford Escort Mexican Rally Championship.
As an award, he had an opportunity to drive factory-entered Ford Escort RS 1600 MkI at 1973 International Scottish Rally, which was a part of the European Rally Championship. In 1973, Pond was fighting against Jimmy McRae and Russell Brookes in the British Rally Championship, but a man who secured him a future was Tony Fall, who was a rally driver and manager for the Dealer Team Opel.
WRC debut with Opel Ascona at 1974 RAC Rally
Tony Pond was better then Tony Fall in a direct fight at the 1973 Welsh International Rally, what impressed Fall and he offered a place to Pond in his team. Driving an Opel Ascona for Dealer Opel Team (DOT), Pond gained some success in national events in 1974.
In November 1974, he made a debut in the World Rally Championship, driving an Opel Ascona at Lombard RAC Rally. Sharing a car with navigator Mike Wood, Pond retired due to technical issues.
Fourth place for Pond and Richards at 1975 RAC Rally
Pond continued to drive for Dealer Opel Team in 1975, recording many notable results in the national and European events with Opel Ascona 1.9 SR. His navigator in the first part of the season was Mike Broad, then David Richards came.
In November 1975, Pond and Richards finished fourth at Lombard RAC Rally in an Opel Kadett GT/E, missing out first WRC podium. Three Ford drivers Timo Makinen, Roger Clark and Tony Fowkes were on the podium.
Driving Triumph TR7 since 1976
General Motors decided to stop selling Opels in the UK, concentrating on the Vauxhall brand, so Tony Pond had to change a manufacturer. He joined British Leyland in 1976, driving a Triumph TR7. David Richards stayed with him as a navigator. Their best result in 1976 was the third place at Manx Rally. At RAC Rally, they retired with broken suspension.
In 1977, Fred Gallagher joined Pond as a navigator in a Triumph TR7. They were successful in the European Rally Championship, winning the Boucles de Spa rally and scoring some podiums. In the WRC, Pond retired at Tour de Corse and finished 8th at RAC Rally.
1978 - one more fourth place at RAC Rally
In 1978, the Triumph TR7 V8 was introduced and Pond gained lots of success with that car, both in UK national events and European Rally Championship events.
He and Fred Gallagher won at Manx International Rally and then finished fourth at RAC Rally, again missing maiden WRC podium. Three Ford drivers were again in front of Pond: Hannu Mikkola, Bjorn Waldegard and Russell Brookes.
1979 – a season with Talbot Sunbeam Lotus
In 1979, Pond joined Chrysler to drive Chrysler/Talbot Sunbeam Lotus. The results weren't so good, with just one podium at Rallye des 1000 Pistes in France. Pond finished fourth at Rally Sanremo, sharing a car with Ian Grindrod. At RAC Rally, they didn't reach the finish.
In 1979, Pond was also driving Chevrolet Chevair in the South African Rally Championship, winning one event (Duckhams Rally).
Back to Triumph TR7 V8 in 1980
In 1980, Pond was back in the cockpit of Triumph TR7 V8, participating at Rallye Portugal for the first time, not finishing the race. Later in the season, Pond and Fred Gallagher participated in one more WRC event, the RAC Rally, finishing in the seventh place.
They won two ERC events – the Manx Rally and 24 Hours of Ypres. Pond also continued to compete and win rallies in South Africa, driving Chevrolet Chevair and Datsun Stanza.
Maiden WRC podium at 1981 Tour de Corse
Leyland canned the TR7 at the end of 1980, so Pond was driving several different cars in 1981 – Vauxhall Chevette 2300 HSR, Datsun Stanza and Datsun Violet GT. In May, Tony Pond finally reached his maiden WRC podium, finishing third at Tour de Corse, with Ian Grindrod as a navigator in a Datsun Violet GT. Pond was beaten by two Frenchmen Bernard Darniche (Lancia Stratos HF) and Guy Frequelin (Talbot Sunbeam Lotus).
In other WRC events, the RAC Rally and Rally Sanremo, Pond didn't reach the finish. He was second in the British Rally Championship (behind Jimmy McRae) and scored two ERC wins at Scottish Rally and Manx Rally in a Vauxhall Chevette.
Variety of cars in 1982 and 1983
In 1982, Pond continued to use a variety of cars – Rover 3500 Vitesse, Datsun Bluebird Turbo, Nissan Violet GT/GTS, Datsun Stanza and Vauxhall Chevette. His most notable result was fourth place at Safari Rally in a Nissan Violet GTS.
In 1983, the new cars on the list were Nissan 240 RS and Mitsubishi Cordia. Nissan 240 RS was a Group B car and Pond was driving it at Boucles de Spa ERC event and Tour de Corse WRC event. He finished second in Belgium and sixth in France.
Austin Rover factory driver since 1984
In 1984, Tony Pond became a factory driver for Austin Rover, participating in a development of the MG Metro 6R4 Group B car and Rover 3500 Vitesse Group A car. He participated with that cars in national and international events, including British WRC round.
Pond's navigator was Rob Arthur. Their best result was third place at Manx International Rally. At RAC Rally, they retired after an accident.
Podium at 1985 RAC Rally in a Group B MG Metro 6R4
It is considered that Tony Pond reached a peak of career at 1985 RAC Rally, fighting against the best world's driver and taking the third in the #10 MG Metro 6R4. It was also a highlight and the best result ever for the British Group B rally car. Pond was beaten only by two Finnish Lancia drivers Henri Toivonen and Markku Alen.
Prior to RAC Rally, Pond scored a victory in an MG Metro 6R4 in the Audi Sport National Rally. That year, he finished 6th in the British Rally Championship in a Rover 3500 Vitesse prepared by Tom Walkinshaw Racing.
Retiring from professional rallying at the end of 1986
Pond stayed with Austin Rover in the 1986 WRC season, driving an MG Metro 6R4 in five events. He retired four times, at Rallye Monte-Carlo, Rallye de Portugal, Tour de Corse and Rallye Sanremo, and finished sixth at RAC Rally.
Pond scored the last victory with MG Group B car at Manx Rally, a part of the European Rally Championship. It was his last season in professional rallying. He appeared occasionally in rallies until 1993.
Two wins in the British Saloon Car Championship
While he was paid by Austin Rover, Tony Pond was participating not only in rallying but also in the British Saloon Car Championship, even scoring two victories. In 1983, he was driving an MG Metro Turbo in Class B and won a race at Donington Park, finishing ninth in the final BSCC standings. In 1984, Pond was driving Rover Vitesse in Class A, scoring one victory at Silverstone.
Pond also recorded several international circuit racing attempts, including Spa 24 Hours debut in 1984 in a Rover Vitesse. He, Eddy Joosen and Jean-Pierre Jabouille didn't finish the race.
Breaking a record at the Isle of Man
After retiring from rallying, Pond stayed with Austin Rover as a development driver. In 1988, he attempted to achieve the first average lap of 100mph with production car at Isle of Man race circuit. His attempt with Rover Vitesse failed but he succeeds two years later with Rover 827 Vitesse.
Tony Pond died on February 7, 2002. He succumbed to pancreatic cancer.