Posts Tagged ‘2011’

A Worthy Cause

March 16, 2011

A Worthy Cause

Today I had the chance to watch Prodrive instructor Simon Clark improve the world a little bit, all by the power of drifting. Si’s idea was to do a sponsored drift for Red Nose Day. We had some spare track time at work, so arranged for Si to use the skid circle. When wetted the surface replicates sheet ice, so is perfect for getting your drift on.

S14 - The Fundraiser's weapon of choice

Si arrived with a red Nissan 200SX drift car which was borrowed from a mate, featuring dented panels, no interior and welded diff’, naturally. Si set off for some practice while we sorted the camera gear, the Cossie style dump valve was a treat on an overcast Wednesday morning, I can tell you.

At roughly 9.30am, Si started his stopwatch and his attempt, but an attempt at what? Well it turns out that there’s a World Record for the longest continuous drift which currently stands at 2 hours 11 minutes, obviously this was the target to aim for. With no Guinness officials in attendance, no records could be broken today, but it would be a great dry run for a possible attempt later in the year. Si got in to a good rhythm so we left him to it, it was far too cold to be stood in the middle of a windswept test track on such a grey day anyway.

A long morning of drifting lay ahead...

We returned later to find him still booting it sideways, with plenty of lock on, a great effort, given that he was still drifting two and a half hours since he began.

Si well in to the swing of things, until we distracted him

I don’t know if us turning up to cheer him on put him off though, as soon after we arrived, he spun it – ending the single continuous drift and the record attempt. 2 hours 29 minutes 52 seconds was the final time, (unofficially beating the record by over 18 minutes). After some cursing at us (sorry Si) he checked the clock and looked dead chuffed, he’d done what he set out to do. Slightly sore and needing the loo, he followed us back to the office. The final mileage covered was 43 miles, all sideways, all in a single drift, and all on only a quarter of a tank. If we hadn’t put him off, who knows how long he could have gone on for with 3/4 of a tank left??

Nervously checking the stopwatch, a new unofficial record and his fund raising done for the day

If you think this feat is worthy of a few quid, please donate here . It’s for a great cause and Si  did a brilliant job behind the wheel today.

 

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A real MINI Adventure

August 2, 2010

Never one to be on time, here’s my take on MINI entering WRC.

Well it’s been such an open secret, for so long, it was hardly news was it? That said, how often do we hear manufacturers linked to motorsport series’ for it all to ultimately come to nothing? It’s very reassuring that pen has been put to paper and that Prodrive’s order books are filling up.

First and foremost, we have a new manufacturer in top level rallying, fantastic news. The IRC series has shown that the right regs and event format can attract new manufacturers to build works cars. Now that WRC has encouraged it’s first new entrant in years, I sincerely hope that others follow suit. We need some diversity, personally, I’m sad that WRC is purely Focus v C4 and PWRC is purely Impreza v Lancer, variety is the spice of life and all.

Hopefully, the S1.6 Turbo regs will encourage other manufacturers to come in. The 1.6 Turbo is particularly relevant to sport road models these days so why not prove it’s worth on the stages? Ford & Citroen have stood by the WRC for a long time, the marketing value clearly works for them, it could work for others too.

I’m totally in favour of the new 1600 turbo regs, from those who I’ve spoken to at Prodrive, the 1.6 unit will make the same peak power as the 2.0, it’ll just lack the torque. This means that the drivers will need to rev the nuts off then, revs = noise, so the fans will be happy, provided that these claims are accurate.

A new team means at least 2 more cars in the WRC, ignoring customer entries. The WRC badly needs more top level seats to improve the strength in depth of the field. There’s several crews in IRC and even National series’ who could hold their own at the top level, there just isn’t the seats to accommodate them. The driver question is a big one. MINI/Prodrive have said that they will only commit to certain rounds in 2011 with an eye on the full series in 2012. With this kind of plan, then need guys who cam develop a car. Drivers like Toni Gardemeister, PG Anderson, Marcus Gronholm or Markko Martin should be on their list. Once we get in to 2012, IRC chargers like Kris Meeke or Juho Hanninen could be a great prospect. I particularly rate Hanninen, he’s quick but also has a wonderful aggressive style that would thrill the fans.

While the MINI Countryman is a fairly reprehensible vehicle in terms of the original Mini’s vales, the WRC is a great way for them to market it so I wish them all the best. That said, you’ll still look a tit if you actually buy one with your own money : )

Finally, how good is to have Prodrive back? Yes, yes I know they never left thanks to Group N, but you know what I mean. It’s wonderful to have them return to the top flight.

Roll on 2011 I say.

An unfortunate question of timing

April 1, 2010

The news broke this morning from the New York International Auto Show, finally a new four-door, big winged Scooby is on the horizon. As a long time Subaru fan (family Prodrive connection) this is wonderous news, Evos just don’t do it for me I’m afraid. That said neither did the current gen WRX, only with the full fat STI did Subaru dig themselves out a hole that was entirely of thier own making. Quite why they tried to make a softer, more palatable car out of the Impreza when they had the Legacy sat there I’ll never know. But hey ho, that’s all in the past now.

Get out, you bloater

A new Impreza that looks far better then when the first shots were leaked last week, not that looks are really important in a rally replica but from the press renderings it looks right. It looks muscular, slightly awkward but purposful, everything an Impreza has historically been about.  No specs yet but you’ve got to expect a very similar set up to the current models. So hooray for the road car, but what does this mean for the competition side?

Is the Impreza back?

Since Subaru limped out of the WRC a couple of years ago, the rallying world has moved on. The WRC from 2011 will use 1.6 litre turbo engines as opposed to the current 2.0 litre units. The cars that contain these engines are much smaller than the Impreza (next year expect a titanic struggle between Citroen’s new DS3 and Ford’s scarily quick looking Fiesta). These cars, built on the current S2000 regs are significantly cheaper to run than the current WRC machines and are growing in popularity. They’re a match for the current group N Production WRC machinery from Mitsubishi and Subaru on both sealed and loose surfaces and cost roughly the same. The only real difference is that turbo group N cars are easier to drive but aren’t as spectacular as the high revving NA S2000s.

Add to this scene a wailing engine note and rejoice that rally's future might have been secured.

I can’t see Subaru (ok, Prodrive)  dropping a 1.6 into an Impreza, which means that the forseable future, Subaru still won’t be in the top flight of international rallying. The only way this could happen is if the regs went back to 2L turbos, which I don’t think will ever happen. The automotive world is committed on the path to small displacement turbo engines before we all have to run sodding diesel-hybrid-tofu-mobiles. I’m completely in favour of the small, turbo petrol engine, it’s the right thing to do for the industry, I’d like to see 1L turbo engines in F1 too, but I digress.

I hope my scepticism is unfounded and Subaru decide that it’ll be a great idea to  put a smaller engine in their WRC car (assuming they come back at all). However until such a thing happens my joy at a new Scoob will be tempered by the fact that, we probably wont see a blue and yellow one being flung down the road by one of the world’s top WRC crews, ever.

Will we ever see it's like again?