AutoGuide News Blog
The AutoGuide News Blog is your source for breaking stories from the auto industry. Delivering news immediately, the AutoGuide Blog is constantly updated with the latest information, photos and video from manufacturers, auto shows, the aftermarket and professional racing.
Street Legal Rally Car
For 2002, Subaru sent its rally-inspired WRX to North America. Based on the Impreza, the WRX brought in a new era of compact performance cars thanks to its all-wheel drive capability and a turbocharged horizontally opposed engine.
Freezing in the Woods has never been so Fun
“You are going to stand in the middle of a forest, in the dead of winter, for hours on end, to catch a glimpse of 30 cars driving by?”
Yup. This is winter rally racing and to those not involved in the automotive culture, spectating at such events sounds downright insane.
Destroying tires with style is a Ken Block special, and the latest in his signature series of Gymkhana videos is no exception.
True automotive enthusiasts might find a “How It’s Made – Rally Cars” a little comical, especially with the use of laymen terms to explain the process in building a formidable rally car.
MINI‘s hopes for capturing the 2012 World Championship Rally title took a big blow before the effort even started. Mini has missed the deadline for signing up for next years championship, which expired at midnight, last night.
The Mini rally car, which is based on the Countryman model is prepared by Prodrive in Banbury, U.K. Now Prodrive, Mini and its parent company BMW are in talks with the FIA to seek an extension to the deadline.
The driver’s for the Mini WRC; Kris Meeke and Dani Sordo made no comment on this situation, but sources say that the team has a strong desire to compete in the WRC 2012 season.
Despite the setback, Mini is expected to make a return to the Monte Carlo Rally next year, an event that made the Mini a legend back in the 1960′s.
Will the FIA grant Mini the extension it needs? We’ll keep you posted on any developments.
Volkswagen’s WRC entry in the form of a Polo R is out testing a little over a year before its official competition debut. The Polo R recently got its first bout of testing on a 1.5-mile tarmac track out in the vineyards in Trier, Germany.
Behind the wheel during test was Dakar winner Carlos Sainz and Volkswagen board member Dr. Ulrich Hackenberg; both took turns piloting the WRC car for about 60 miles with Timo Gottschalk as co-driver.
The actual car being used for testing won’t be the final version of the Polo R WRC, as Volkswagen is trying to gather as much data as possible to tweak the final race car before the start of the 2013 season. Both drivers said the car felt very good and its first batch of data is very promising for a real serious contender.
Details are light on the Polo R WRC, but it’s assumed that it’ll have around 300-hp to all four wheels. Volkswagen clearly knows they have their work cut out for them to compete against veterans Ford and Citroen in WRC, but they’re clearly taking the initiative in ensuring they have a fighting chance.
GALLERY: Volkswagen WRC Polo R
Alongside a new Exige S street car, Lotus has unveiled its proposed entry into rally racing, the Exige R-GT, today at the Frankfurt Auto Show. Weighing in at around 2,600 lbs this race car trades the old Exige’s 4-cylinder for something close to what can be found out back in the Evora S – a supercharged 3.5L V6. Power makes it to the rear wheels using a sequential 6-speed transmission with paddle shifters.
All the necessary equipment is in place to meet FIA racing regulations (plus a few extra driving lights up front), although Lotus does point out that it has yet to get approval to officially campaign the car in motorsports. That’s is certainly the plan though.
GALLERY: Lotus Exige R-GT
While Nobuhiro Tajima’s record-breaking run at Pikes Peak has been capturing all the attention after finally breaking the sub-1o minute mark for the first time ever, but another record was set at the famed Colorado mountain this weekend in something much more accessible to mere mortals.
Legendary Porsche shoe Jeff Zwart took a 911 GT2 RS up the mountain in 11:07.869, setting a new record for street legal cars. Zwart’s time was 6 seconds behind Rod Millen’s Hyundai Genesis Coupe race car, which took the overall win in 2WD Time Attack. Zwart noted that “we fell three seconds short of beating an all-out race car that is hundreds of pounds lighter with no street safety or emission equipment,” and felt confident that the record would stand for years to come.
[Source: Motor Trend]
Volkswagen gave us a first look at their Polo R WRC, a competition version of their Polo R hot hatch destined for the World Rally Championship. Powered by a 1.6L TSI four-cylinder engine, the all-wheel drive Polo R makes 296 horsepower thanks to turbocharging and direct injection.
The usual competition modifications, like a rollcage, bucket seats, upgraded brakes and suspension are all present, and Volkswagen’s rally experience in the Dakar rally will undoubtedly help them stay competitive in one of the world’s premiere motorsports series. If only we could get the Polo R stateside, we’d feel a lot better about the existence of this rally special.
See a video teaser of the car after the jump:
Set to make its first public appearance at the New York International Auto Show later this month, Mopar has revealed its Dodge Avenger rally car showing off its new relationship with Italian aftermarket parts supplier Magneti Marelli.
Based off of a stock 2011 Dodge Avenger Heat, the combination of Italian aftermarket parts and American muscle makes for an intriguing rally car. Magneti Marelli’s expertise in European rally competition clearly shows in the finished product.
With the rising interest of rally racing in America, Mopar’s Avenger should garner plenty of attention with its blend of European and American flair. The Avenger has been lightened 200-lbs from its factory form thanks to a gutted/race interior accented by lightweight carbon fiber components. Mopar equips the Avenger with a full eight-point roll cage for safety while Magneti Marelli put in a helping hand with a carbon fiber hydra-graphics center stack and fully programmable slim racing display with shift lights and alarm multi-color LEDs.
Under the hood, a 3.6L V6 Dodge Pentastar powerplant can be seen along with a traditional Mopar cold-air intake and cat-back exhaust with Magneti Marelli tips. The motor is mated to a standard six-speed 62TE autostick transmission and power has been upped to 300-hp.
Brakes and suspension were obviously upgraded on this rally machine, with Mopar/Magneti Marelli teaming up to create a 14.25-inch front rotor upgrade while the rear features 13.5-inch rotors. The car is lowered 1.5-inches on 18-inch wheels by Mopar and Magneti Marelli.
Dodge says the car has been given a full track shakedown, although no announcement has been made about a racing program – nor is one expected.
GALLERY: Mopar Avenger Rally Car
While it wasn’t the MINI Countryman WRC that did it, the brand still captured their first ever rally victory, with an S2000-class MINI John Cooper Works finishing first in the Rally dell’Adriatico.
The privateer team, known as Grifone, is campaigning the car in a regional rally series that adheres to the rules of the S2000 class. These are much closer to what one can drive on the street, and are also eligible for road racing series in Europe. The win will certainly give the brand a boost ahead of the Countryman WRC’s debut next week, and its first race in Sardinia in May.
With a huge gulf existing between the road-going version of the MINI Countryman and the WRC-ready version, a halo version that could bridge the gap between urban crossover and full-blown race car could be an asset for MINI, and help them leverage some of the image boost that their rally program will provide, especially in parts of the world where WRC is a popular motorsport.
At this point, the idea of a hardcore Countryman is just a rumor, but the it’s not hard to imagine a pumped up Countryman, perhaps with some tweaks courtesy of a JCW upgrade package, more macho bodywork and big wheels. So far, a concept is supposedly planned for.
Ken Block’s Gymkhana videos are a lot of sound and fury but ultimately signify nothing. A combination of great editing, a specially prepared car and an unrivaled hype machine has propelled Block to the top of the Youtube heap. But his newest video, barely 2 minutes in length, is genuinely awesome.
Piloting a 1978 Ford Escort through an upstate New York rally course, the video is unfortunately brief but manages to dose you with just enough vintage rally goodness to keep you satiated. Check it out below, after the jump.
Fans of 1980′s rally cars consider the Audi Sport Quattro to be the ne plus ultra of road-going rally machines, but one dissenter prominenter dissenter – the man who designed the Sport Quattro – has been vocal recently about his creation.
In an interview with Autocar, Peter Britwhistle, the man responsible for the Sport Quattro, and now Mazda Europe’s design boss, said that the car was “bloody ugly”. Claiming that the Quattro’s Audi 80 underpinings meant it would forever be a compromise, Britwhistle remarked “Although it did what it needed to do, it looks awful.”
The Sport Quattro’s wide fender flares, excessive vents, wide wheels painted a contrasting color and enormous spoilers became instantly recognizable design elements and arguably influenced a generation of performance cars.
It’s not unheard of for tuner-type wannabes to refer to their modified sport compact as a “race car” – but what if you really could buy a suite of parts that would turn your econobox into a real, full blown rally racer?
Ford is doing just that with their new R2 rally kit for their Fiesta subcompact. With the Fiesta getting a ton of press for its exploits in X-Games rally (we use the term loosely, of course), Ford is eager to capitalize on the buzz by offering a crapload of parts that will make the Fiesta eligible for real, WRC-style rally events, not the X Games showboating that Monster Energy Drink bros are accustomed to.
A whole host of upgrades to the engine internals helps bump power 168 horses and 134 lb-ft of torque, while a five-speed sequential gearbox renders the car deafeningly loud and unstreetable. Adjustable dampers, Eibach springs, bucket seats with harnesses and a rollcage all render the car unstreetable, so there will be no gymkhana like exploits for civilian Fiesta drivers.
The flipside is that the R2 kit will allow you to enter in RallyAmerica sanctioned events, with the future possibility of working with the BP Ford World Rally team.
Gallery: Ford Fiesta R2
Hit the jump for the official press release
Ford’s new challenger for the 2011 FIA World Rally Championship, the all-new Fiesta RS World Rally Car, made its first global public appearance at the Paris Motor Show today.
The Fiesta RS WRC will make its competition debut in Rally Sweden, the opening round of the 2011 FIA World Rally Championship, on 10 – 13 February. Ford has been tight lipped regarding details of the car, but we do know that it has a 1.6L Ecoboost engine and will not be driven by Ken Block.
Gallery: Ford Fiesta WRC
With the huge success of their C4 rally car, Citroen has a lot to prove with their DS3 successor. Having already claimed three driver’s championships and two manufacturer’s championships in four quick years, the DS3 will have a ton to live up to.
Obviously the playing field is a tad different with the new 2011 World Rally Championship rules in place, so Citroen opted for a smaller, naturally aspirated engine to power their DS3 rally car. We’ll be on hand at the Paris Auto Show to check out the DS3 rally car in person (at its official debut) but before then we’ve been teased by Citroen with this video.
And it’s a real tease, never holding a frame for more than a couple of seconds. If you’re adverse to quick changes in light and picture, we don’t advise you to watch the video. It’s just a whole mess of flickering with very subtle hints as to what the DS3 will pack inside and out. But as with most things on the Internet and YouTube, you’ve got 33 seconds to spare, don’t you?
Check out the video after the break.
Subaru has teamed up with famed rally car builder Vermont SportsCar to prepare two rally cars for their X-Games drivers, Travis Pastrana, Dave Mirra and Sverre Isachsen.
Starting with a 2011 WRX STI, the Vermont SportsCar crew stripped everything out of the interior and did the requisite rollcage and seam welding jobs needed to make the car rigid enough to endure the stresses of rallying. A fire suppression system and fuel cell were also installed, as were EXE-TC coilovers.
Power is rated at 500 horsepower, an incredible figure from the 2.5L flat-four engine. The engine also makes 560lb-ft of torque, enough to alter the earth’s rotation, and that’s with a special restrictor plate fitted. And of course, it wouldn’t be a rally car with an ear-drum-shattering anti-lag system fitted.
With a new event called SuperRally coming to this XGames, Subaru needs to have its baddest rally car yet to fend off the challengers – SuperRally features four cars competing at the same time, and you can bet the Ford’s Fiesta, as well as a multitude of others, will be out for blood.
Hit the jump to read the official press release
Many, many people were injured in the making of this film
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As a people the Finns love Rally car racing. They love watching it (especially when they’re watching famous native drivers like Marcus Grönholm or Tommi Mäkinen) and they love to get involved. They particularly like to drive… and crash. The above YouTube video compilation is made up entirely of Finnish rally car drivers slamming into pretty much anything from rocks, to trees and getting a lot of air in the process.
And the best part is, unlike every other such video on YouTube, there’s no Linkin Park soundtrack – just the sound of crushing metal.
Many, many people were harmed in the making of this video.