Dome Zero RL 81 #23 – Spark (pw)

1981 Dome Zero RL 81 #23
Pilots: C. Craft, B. Evans 
Team: Dome Co. Ltd
Race: 1st overall (P+5.0 class) at Le Mans in 1981
Spark (pw) - HACHLM51 (diecast)

Published 05/27/22

When Minoru Hayashi created the Dome Zero, he could not homologate it as a passenger car. With that, he turned his efforts to racing. At international events, he could race the Zero as a prototype. In 1979 the first Dome Zero RL was ready, and ready for the 24 Heures du Mans. The RL, even for a prototype, was quite unique at La Sarthe. At the time, no other prototype had such a narrow track (1,340 mm) in such a long body (5.0 m). That didn’t shy Dome away from trying, since they tried their hand in 1979 and 1980. In 1979, with two cars in the race, both dropped out early with engine issues. And in 1980, even after the heroic effort of taking the car’s gearbox to a local La Sarthe shop to get it fixed, car #12 DNC. 

Even with two consecutive failures, Dome returned to La Sarthe in 1981 with basically the same car.

Despite the far-from-solid results, Dome was back at Le Mans in 1981. In essence, the RL 81 was the same RL 80 of the previous year. Dome only had one chassis (an aluminum monocoque) that they lightly upgraded for 1981. It used the same carbon fiber body and the same Ford-Cosworth DFV 2993 cm³ V8. What was really new was the major sponsor, now Amada, a Japanese tool brand. Sporting #23, driving duties were once again handled by Chris Craft and Gordon Spice. Unfortunately though, the engine of the RL 81 #23 swallowed a valve on lap 154, and it was out. With a third failure in a row, Dome shelved the Zero RL for good. Nonetheless, the car was restored and still exists to this day.

If you look closely. you will see that the engine cowls are different.

My second Zero, and one more pw from the Hachette “24 Hours of Le Mans Cars Collection” series. And just like the RL 80, another great model. At first look it seems to be the same RL 80 yet with a different livery. Though the differences are very subtle, they are there, specially on the engine cowl. The openings on the engine cowl are different from one car to the other. Additionally, they also have different wheels. Therefore, the models did not come from the same mold. Which is quite remarkable coming from pw models, if you ask me. Nonetheless, two Zero RL in the same collection is probably only for the Le Mans freak. So if you want only one, go for the RL 80 #12, that has the cooler history.

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