Feb 12, 2008 | NZPC

Auckland-based Ralliart New Zealand has won the opening round of the Production World Rally Championship at the WRC Rally of Sweden held over the weekend.

The first of six qualifying rounds in the 2008 global championship, driver Juho Hänninen (Finland) was able to clean sweep the production category in the Ralliart NZ Mitsubishi Lancer EVO IX.

Finishing eighth overall at the WRC event, conditions varied as traditional snow and ice dissipated during the weekend — offering up gravel and tarmac during the 340km three-day test.

With the Ralliart team headed by former NZ rally champion Neil Allport, he confirmed their season opening win following the post-event technical clearance:

“All in all it’s an excellent result for the start of our championship with Juho because it was the hardest fought.  There were over 20 cars in our class, including the new S2000 Peugeot — which is very quick.”

Over a minute ahead of the nearest category competitor, Allport says it is great reward for their efforts.

“As a team it’s a great achievement for us — first time up.  It’s also a credibility thing — it demonstrates we are capable of running cars at this level and justification of what we are doing.  Long term is we can compete at this level; you have to step up to the plate and deliver results.”

Three months until their next round, the Ralliart car is bound for the searing climate of Greece, while the New Zealand crew will return to continue preparing a brand new car for debut later in the year.

“Our objective is to score as many points as we can on the first three rallies as our intention is to switch to EVO 10s at the New Zealand round — so we need to make sure we have got things right.  We controlled what we did here very well!.we had a good handle on the opposition and everything went extremely well to plan even in the difficult conditions we had,” added Allport.

The Ralliart NZ team ran a second car at the event: Indonesian pairing of Subhan Aksa and co-driver Hendrik Mboi finished the event 25th overall — the first time they had seen snow.

Feb 11, 2008 | NZPC

mines r35

We reported before that Nissan’s GT-R wouldn’t take modifications easily. Now it turns out that Nissan has put a series of draconian measures in place designed to stop high speeds and aftermarket modifications to the GT-R. Suddenly we’re less enthusiastic about owning one.

The original GT-R was legendary for its ease of modification – 900hp was a breeze. So, why would Nissan remove the fun? We’re not sure, but Mine’s Motor Sports President Michizio Nikura told Motor Trend that even aftermarket wheels are not allowed. A sensor mounted in the valve stem detects the new wheels and throws up an error code on the dashboard.

Mines had fitted a custom exhaust for the Tokyo Auto Salon, but this caused the ECU major problems. And, it seems that the 180kph speed limiter that is GPS based (it unlocks when you reach a racetrack) will only unlock on approved racetracks, and the user has to navigate through several menus on the GT-R’s touchscreen to make the change. Then, when you’ve finished your track day you’re required to head over to a Nissan High Performance Centre where an expensive ‘safety check’ is performed. Fail to do this and the factory warranty is void.

We think this will serious limit the  resale value of the GT-R, but maybe not the desirability of purchasing a new one. Nissan had built its reputation as being a marque that produced a tunable supercar in the R32-R34 GT-Rs. Now they’re throwing that all away.

Feb 11, 2008 | NZPC
Chris Atkinson Subaru WRC Rally Sweden 2008

With both Impreza WRC2007s scoring points this weekend, the Subaru World Rally Team remains tied for second place in the overall Manufacturers’ Championship standings. Solberg is tied for fourth in the Drivers’ Championship, whilst Atkinson is just behind in sixth position after his haul of points on Rallye Monte Carlo.

“It’s been rather a strange Swedish Rally given the lack of snow but all things considered we’re able to come away with more Manufacturer points” said Team Principal David Richards. “We look forward to testing this week which will hopefully bring advantages in Mexico at the end of the month. Rally Mexico will bring a totally different set of challenges which have always suited Subaru in the past.”

The final day of the Swedish Rally brought the same conditions, albeit the temperature was slightly colder, and the routes were run on gravel from the very first speed test this morning. It was left badly rutted and muddy after the morning’s pass, and, as we saw yesterday, the second running in the afternoon was cancelled.

“We just drove today to finish the event and collect some more points, for us and the team. There was nothing special today and I’m pleased with fourth” said Petter Solberg. “Everyone at the front backed off today I think and we weren’t fighting for position so we didn’t take any risks. The stages were bad again today, and we pretty much ran them all on gravel. I felt the balance of the car in these conditions was better this morning than yesterday, but we had no reason to push today.”

Atkinson and Prevot continued their steady run since losing time on Friday to climb to 21st place overall, having gained 24 positions since the close of Friday’s stages. Finishing the final day’s five stages with some top four stage times, the Australian was left pleased with his progress but ruing Friday’s mistake.

“We really weren’t pushing today as we didn’t need to take any risks” said Chris Atkinson. “I’m disappointed we went off on Friday, but we’ve come back up through the field and still gained a Manufacturer point. The stages today were the same as yesterday, and we saw those at the front back off so there were no real fights for position. It’s been a difficult rally for us, but we take the point and now look to Mexico which will be a totally different event.”

Final results
1. Latvala / Anttila Ford Focus RS WRC 07 2h 46m 41.2s
2. Hirvonen / Lehtinen Ford Focus RS WRC 07 +58.3s (diff. to 1st)
3. Galli / Bernacchini Ford Focus RS WRC 07 +2m 23.2s
4. Solberg / Mills Subaru Impreza WRC2007 +2m 59.4s
5. Mikkelsen / Floene Ford Focus WRC +5m 46.0s
6. Sordo / Marti (Superally) Citroen C4 WRC +7m 13.1s
7. Gardemeister / Tuominen Suzuki SX4 +10m 35.3s
8. Hanninen / Markkula Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX +12m 27.5s
9. Ostberg / Unnerud Subaru Impreza WRC +13m 28.5s
10. Ketomaa / Teiskonen Subaru Impreza +13m 50.7s
21. Atkinson / Prevot Subaru Impreza WRC2007 +20m 51.9s
Drivers’ Championship points Manufacturers’ Championship points
1  Hirvonen / Lehtinen 16 1  BP Ford WRT 26
2  Loeb / Elena 10 2  Subaru World Rally Team 16
-  Latvala / Anttila 10 -  Stobart VK M-Sport WRT 16
4  Solberg / Mills 9 4  Citroen Total WRT 15
-  Galli / Bernacchini 9 5  Suzuki WRT 5
6  Atkinson / Prevot 6
7  Duval / Chevalier 5
8  Mikkelsen / Floene 4
Feb 10, 2008 | NZPC

will slotted discs increase the wear on my brake pads

Slotted discs have shallow channels cut in them. These help de-glaze the brake pad, and help the brake to get rid of brake dust which is worn off the pad while braking. Because the channels have an edge (and because they’re designed to stop brake pads glazing) they wear the pad down more quickly.

Slotted discs have the same advantage as cross-drilled discs in that they prevent a layer of water or gas becoming trapped between the pad and the disc, so they improve performance.

Most commonly the slots run in the same direction around the disc, but the image above shows Wilwood’s asymmetrical grooves – slots that are not evenly spaced or in the same direction. This is to reduce potential harmonic vibration under braking and ensure even wear on the brake pads.

For everyday driving, slotted disc rotors might be overkill (even though they look the part), but if you participate in motorsport they’re a recommended component for your braking system.

Feb 10, 2008 | NZPC

should ypu use cross-drilled brake discs

Some high performance cars feature cross-drilled brake discs. Cross-drilling is where holes are drilled through the brake disc. This was first tried in the 1960s on racing cars to make the brakes more efficient (it prevents a layer of gas or water getting trapped between the pad and the disc.)

On the road under normal braking cross-drilled discs offer better performance, but on the track the holes are prone to developing stress cracks under heavy braking when the discs heat up. For this reason, if you are racing, cross-drilled brake discs are not the best choice, but for everyday on-road motoring they can offer a performance advantage over non-cross-drilled brakes.

And they look cool.

Feb 8, 2008 | NZPC

toyota ft-hs

Toyota FT-HS concept – will the new Celica look a bit like this? Unlikely, even though it’s cool.

Rumours have surfaced in Japan about the return of the Celica. News of a new low-cost sportscar from Toyota have been bouncing around for a while, but we thought it would be based on the AE86 Sprinter or Trueno – lightweight, rear drive, and designed to capitalise on the drifting phenomenon.

1978 Celica – sporty!

But the Celica name holds some cachet – the rally success of Carlos Sainz ingrained the legend of the four-wheel drive Celica in the minds of many enthusiasts.

Word on the street is that there’ll be a base-trim GT possibly powered by a naturally aspirated EJ20 boxer flat four driving the rear wheels, and a nutcase version GT-Four with 300hp and AWD (possibly with the fronts being driven by an electric motor). It may even have hints of the FT-HS concept, pictured above.

With Toyota’s new partnership with Subaru (it bought a stake in Fuji Heavy Industries, Subaru’s parent company in 2005), the boxer and the AWD will come from the Impreza WRX STI.

We’ll update you as we know more.

Feb 8, 2008 | NZPC

Wanna learn more about how to modify your ride? We’ve created a new section with heaps of information, tips and tricks about getting the most out of your car’s performance. To get there, click on Articles in the menu, then click on Technical Articles. Whether it’s dropping your ride, installing a turbo, swapping an engine or understanding what a wastegate is, we’ll be updating it every 7-10 days with more words of wisdom. You can subscribe using RSS if you want to know when the updates happen.

Have fun!

Feb 7, 2008 | NZPC

pc news citroen

Citroen’s quadruple FIA World Rally Champions Sebastien Loeb and co-driver, Daniel Elena, will make their 100th WRC start in Sweden this weekend.  Frenchman Loeb and Monegasque, Elena, are the most successful pairing in WRC to date, with 37 wins from their 99 starts. They also hold the records for most wins in one season (10 in 2005) and the longest run of consecutive wins (6 in 2005).

The pair, who contested their first rally together 10 years ago, have notched up a massive 61 WRC podiums on their way to a reliable 85% finishing record.  Only Carlos Reutemann has ever set a better starts to podiums ratio, in the 1980s.

Loeb and Elena have won the last four WRC titles, and altogether have triumphed on 17 different events — 12 rallies on the current WRC calendar plus previous rounds in Sanremo, Portugal, Ireland, Cyprus and Australia.

Sebastien is also the only non-Nordic driver to have won the Swedish Rally, in 2004, and he and Daniel will be looking to continue their perfect start to the ’08 season, having set a brand new record two weeks ago, when they clinched their fifth Rallye Monte Carlo victory.

“Sure, it would be nice to celebrate our 100th start with a win,” observed Sebastien. “But scoring points in both championships will also be important, and I will base my pace on the way the rally unfolds.”

The 2008 Swedish Rally starts in Karlstad on Thursday, February 8.