Ever wondered who is the brains behind the greats of modern Ford motoring? Step forward Ahmed Bayjoo.
Ahmed began his career with a Ford apprenticeship. “By the end, I knew cars inside out”, he grinned. His apprenticeship over, he was faced with a choice: go to college or keep learning by the hands-on method. “I was too excited to go and study”, he explained, “so I stayed at Ford”.
He became a Technical Supervisor at a Ford dealership. This was the late ’80s, when increasing numbers of engines were being endowed with electronics management systems. Ahmed realised that, as the Pirelli ad says, “Power is nothing without control”. So, in his spare time, he began experimenting with ECUs, teaching himself how they work and devising improvements.
Many a career has been based on a hobby. Henry Ford built his first car for his own amusement, and before long, he owned the largest motor company in the world. Ahmed’s experiments with old ECUs and software showed results which were “frankly, incredible”. Inevitably, it wasn’t too long before the then head of Motorsport at Ford, Peter Ashcroft, head-hunted him as a Consultant Engines and Electronics Engineer.
Ashcroft had a special project under development. As this was 1990, it turned out to be the original World Rally Car programme. This was the big time for Ahmed. Goodbye to showing mechanics how to fathom out a car’s electronics, hello to refining the software to guide the WRC Fords to numerous international rally wins. He took to the job immediately. “Basically”, he smiled, “it’s been sheer fun from that point on”. There have been high and low points: “obviously, it’s better to win a rally than to lose. But every event, in every car, presents new questions, fresh problems. And that’s the thing for me, the challenge”.
Needless to say, 10 years on, Ahmed is still working for Ford Motorsport. Having worked on every major Ford Motorsport project throughout the ’90s, his latest projects involved developing the 1600 Phase 2 Puma rally engine and the “ST160″, aka the Ford Racing Puma, engine.
As Ahmed is freelance he also enjoys a certain amount of liberty from Ford. In this other incarnation, he has become the ECU-mapper supreme of the modified car market. Very few of the seriously sorted cars throughout the country wouldn’t dream of running anything other than a bespoke, custom mapped ECU from Ahmed. The race for huge horsepower is a spin off of the Ford tuning industry. Competition is tight and some are fixated by a single goal – to achieve the biggest bhp reading from the dyno. The result – numerous virtually undriveable cars, optimised for peak power and nothing else. But not those cars mapped by Ahmed. ” The power reading is not the point. Sure, if someone wants 500bhp, we can build an engine to give that. But if I map it, it won’t produce horses at the expense of torque. What’s the point in spending thousands on a road engine that’s useless anywhere but on the track?”. Ahmed’s aim for every car he maps for the road is that it should drive as good, if not better, than Ford themselves intended.
So just why is Ahmed the most highly regarded in his field? Couldn’t anyone with a Pentium laptop and the right software do a similar job? “Probably not. It’s a combination of software and pure mechanical knowledge. I couldn’t map engines if I hadn’t spent years learning exactly how they function. The mechanical and electronic aspects of engines are often seen as separate. But, they’re not. They’re inter-dependant. I’m just lucky to understand that, and know lots about both”. His success is also based on attention to detail. “Everything has to be checked”, he said emphatically. “Then it has to be re-checked. That’s how you get things right”. Ahmed has often been known to work into the small hours in the dyno booth, getting things right. He’s probably a little obsessive, but then this is a craft that requires it. “I need to know that something is spot on. The results depend on it. I don’t want to kid people by making claims that aren’t true. But more importantly, I don’t want to kid myself”.