Friday, September 14, 2012

Photo of the day

This photo was taken at Chateau Lastour, located in south west France near Toulouse. MRTE went there often to test the rally cars. The gravel roads were very rough and great for reliability testing.

From left to right: Ingvar Calsson R.I.P., Achim Warmbold, Hannu Mikkola
I had the amazing chance to ride incar during tests with all three of these gentlemen. 

I remember of a time with Hannu, when, he went flat out over some big hole. I was really young and got scared for the car. After the run, while he turned around, I asked him if he could drive around the hole this time. He looked at me and said "ok". So he did. 

I was happy :)

Sunday, September 2, 2012

The knob

The rally cars I drove (and pretty much every rally car I have ever seen)  have systems with which you can manually adjust the brake bias (usually a knob which is within the driver's reach, in the cockpit). As a driver, one of the first things I did when sitting in a new car was check the brake bias before driving. By new car I mean a car I have not driven before, or somebody else has prior to me, or after a rebuild.

On gravel and snow I would drive some little bit and brake hard, making the car slide. What I looked for on loose surfaces was for the back to step out and stay out, steadily, under a steered braking slide. If the back would not step out I'd give it more bias to the rear. If the back stepped out too much and started to spin out I'd give it less bias to the rear. 

On gravel the bias ratio that I felt comfortable with usually hovered around 54:46 (Front:Rear). This is what I used on the '04 spec Focus and I believe the other drivers were on similar biases. As you can see this ratio shows only about 13% in difference between front and rear. Bear in mind the '04 Focus has a near 50:50 weight distribution front to rear and a 4 wheel drive transmission. 

When the bias is adjusted properly, you can brake from any speed, straight, and put the car sideways with help from a bit of steering (and speed). As you keep braking sideways the back stays stable and does not spin out. That is how, under full attack, you can brake very late and hard as you steer into corners, under full control, with no danger of spinning out.
Once I had figured out my favorite brake bias I did not need to re-test it every time I sat in a different chassis. There were about 5 different chassis, between the test car which I got to drive on a few occasions, and the rally cars which the team rotated around for me. The different '04 spec rally cars I drove were EO03XYG, EG53BDU, EF04VVB, ET53UJP. The way to check the bias was cool on the Focus: I'd turn onto a specific screen page on the cockpit computer which shows the front and rear brake cylinder pressures. I'd push on the brake pedal until 24 Bar showed on the front cylinder; at this point the rear had to show 21 Bar if it was correctly adjusted. If not, well......turn the knob...  

Saturday, September 1, 2012

The big no-no

Back in an earlier post entitled Ivan I mentionned a "costly mistake" we made while on the Charlevoix Rally, in Quebec. So what happened exactly?

Here it is:

A tip, never take tires like these...

...and rip the studs out because you have to...

...and expect the rubber to work on snow and ice...

... 'cause it doesn't...


Back in 2002 around October we travelled to Quebec with the Corolla WRC to participate in the Charlevoix Rally. We had been invited there, with attractive conditions set by the organiser. Our information was that stages were smooth and fast gravel. We had various conversations about what tires to take over there. Our main concern was that October is a tricky month in Quebec. Snow can fall. The regulations made one thing clear: Spikes are forbidden. 


We packed some gravel tires (mostly soft compound 7 and 8 Michelin) but the question remained concerning the snow. We did not know of a studless competition tire that we could use on gravel and snow. We decided to improvise. We talked to a friend who worked in the Michelin competition department. He supplied us with a bunch of "Swedish rally type tires" (similar as the ones in the top pic). We were going to have to rip the studs out one by one and try.

On came the rally and lo and behold: snow.

This is what was waiting for us:

Having never driven on these studless tires, we decided to take the Corolla for a spin on some random forest road. A fresh and compact white cover welcomed us with open arms, but oh my...there was no way to drive on these tires. The verdict was that "Swedish rally" tires have extremely hard rubber compound made to hold the spike in place. 


Spikes HAVE to stay straight in order to work. When driving with heavy "attack" they get hot together with the rubber and start to move. Hard rubber is the only option to prevent that as much as possible. We learned the hard way that if the spike is gone you can forget it, the tire doesn't work, unlike "Monte Carlo rally" tires, for example.

One day before the rally start, our task was to find some tires...whatever tires, anything but those we had. Standard "Bridgestone Blizzak" tires became an option as the deadline approached.

We met a very nice guy named Franck Sprongl who was kind enough to sell us a set of his own tires...some kind of weird thing I had never seen before. It looked like a "Blizzak" tire with some tread blocks cut out, to help for traction. Needless to say I was thankful but not reassured because as nice as he was, his tires had very soft and thin sidewalls. This meant that my Corolla's competition suspension coupled with the engine's 300+HP was very much capable of making potato purée out of those tires when driving on the mixed gravel & snow.

On we went, no choice.

Stage one: here I go! Gravel at the start. I had to take it easy on the gravel, make those tires last. The stage was long and eventually gravel turned to snow and snow turned to more snow and slush and... It was extremely hard to drive because the grip was going from "good" to "sh#te" in a flash. Suddenly I see the front of some kind of blue Hyundai in my mirrors. A gentleman called John Buffum caught and past me. I thought one thing and one thing only:

what the f##k

Needless to say, I had a peek at his wheels as soon as I could, and guess what? He had "Monte Carlo" type Michelin full snow tires !!! You know, the full snow tread pattern we use on snowy TARMAC roads here in Europe. It looked something like this:
I was shocked but he wasn't. He knew from years of experience with studless rallying in North America that "Monte Carlo full snow's" worked in those conditions. We had ruled them out as a choice because we were afraid the sidewalls would not stand the gravel. Apparently they do, ask John. 

The full snow was perfect for those snow / slush / gravel conditions. Narrow to cut through the slush. Soft rubber for the icy / packed snow. Open tread for the gravel. Hardened sidewalls adapted for competition cars.

Stage 2, 3: yuk, yuk, yuk...

Stage 4 was more like it. Full gravel, Finland style. I think I even saw a lake.

Mr Franck Sprongl's tires worked well and the result was, as one of our mechanics used to say: "Shnell like Hell". I was so angry about the 1st stage fiasco that my emotional side took over. In the midst of the action I managed some very hard landings (playing with fire on Franck's tires there, Antony?)...overshot one muddy braking point, lost 15 seconds in that ordeal...then flew over the, yes you guessed it: flying finish, only to find the organisers had put the end of stage stop control desk way too close to the flying finish. I almost overshot the stop control desk as well after almost crashing into it. (Friendly editor's note to stage marshalls: leave room after the flying finish, especially if it's after a blind crest that cars take flat in sixth, sideways. Ask my co-driver Gemma, she'll remember that one.)

Stage 4 result was: we beat the second guy by....not sure anymore but it was a BUNCH of seconds. Clearly, gravel was not a problem. Unfortunately all the other stages had snow in them. 

To make a long story very short we never finished that rally 'cause we retired with a double puncture a bit later in the afternoon. The soft sidewalls couldn't take the stress and we ran out of luck driving over a small stone. Something a normal competition tire would have passed gas over.

Apart from all that stress and jubilation I would like to point out the stages in Quebec, which were magnificent. After all the forest and mountain roads I have driven across the world, Quebec rates high in my book. 

* BF Goodrich is a brand owned by Michelin.
** I couldn't find a pic of the exact tire but this C11 pic is very close.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Controlling the launch

The Focus WRC 02 car I drove in 2003 and 2004 did not have the same comprehensive launch control system as the 04 car I drove in 2005. In fact, I never used it on the '02 car. I could press a green button on the steering wheel which revved the engine at the optimal rpm and boost for the start. I still had to operate the clutch, which is the tricky part.

I found gravel is the easiest surface to start on. Rev the engine rather high and dump the clutch. Piece of cake. Tarmac demands more control, you have to feed the clutch gently. Finding the right balance between not burning the clutch and not stalling is the key. Starting on ice and snow is the trickiest. How to do if you are sitting, for example, on the start line of a Swedish stage, on fresh ice and snow? You can't rev it up and dump the clutch. You'll just find yourself wheelspinning, going nowhere... Feeding it tarmac style won't do it quite either. The secret is to get the car to roll a little bit forward, being careful not to stall, and then dump the clutch gently. Sometimes you'll see drivers dump the clutch brutally on icy stage starts. They can do that when there has been many cars starting on the same place and the ground is dug up to the gravel.

 '02 Focus WRC
In 2004 Rally Monte Carlo the Ford head engineer chatted with me just after shakedown. He said he had been sitting on the start line and timed my start against Markko Märtin's. We had exactly the same time and he said that was a good start. We had coldish tires on damp tarmac and the start led up the hill perhaps a hundred meters until a sharp right, out of the town of Sospel. Markko  was using launch on his '03 spec car, I wasn't. I had a good start there but it wasn't always the case, in fact many times I was unhappy with my starts. From the '03 spec car onwards and including the '04 spec I drove in 2005, launches became a breeze. Here's why:


No matter what, it is always perfect. The result of a very expensive high tech transmission.

Here's what happens in the car:

Once I arrive at the stage start the marshal calls me to the start line if it's free. At this point, on gravel or snow, if I see ruts I'll settle the car in them. That's where grip is best for the launch, unless I think they're too deep for the car. This happens a lot if you run way down the order or on the second pass, at which point the start line often looks like a potato field anyway. 

Once I am nested in, I give a last tightening on my belts, check if all the stuff I need is on, etc. 

I then ask my codriver to read the first 3 or 4 corners out loud so I can visualize my stage beginning and let it flow onwards.

When 10 seconds remain I hit the "STAGE" button which you learned about in my previous post: RSI : Water injection.

Immediately after I push the clutch pedal and engage 1st gear.....clank.

I pull the handbrake, at this point the engine revs up automatically to the optimal amount of rpm preset in the program.

I let go the clutch pedal and the car holds in place...Did I mention the car is equipped with a  hydraulically controlled clutch?

I push the throttle to maximum but the revs remain as before...the boost kicks in.

5,4,3,2,1... I let go the handbrake and the car goes, like magic, every time. A perfect start.

All I have to do then is shift into 2nd gear and drive the stage normally.

If for some reason the computer detects a malfunction during the launch sequence a warning message flashes on the display. All I have to do in that case is keep control over the clutch and launch manually.

'04 Focus WRC
I might have mentionned it before but that magic clutch also kicks in automatically when you spin out, just to keep that engine running for ya. It's there just in case you don't get the reflex to push the pedal in time... A good time saver considering the engine can be a bit long to restart when very hot just after an in-stage stall.

Monday, August 20, 2012

An ARB question

from OldF:

"...Not knowing what you are going to write about, one issue I can’t recall you have been writing about is the anti-roll bars. I know they’re stiffer on tarmac rallies (as the whole suspension set-up) compared to gravel rallies but what is the relationship to other suspension set-ups (spring stiffness, dampers settings etc.)?

Is the suspension set-up chosen for a tarmac or gravel rally and the anti-roll bars stiffness by the suspension set-up or are they chosen independently (slow and twisty tarmac / gravel rallies compared to fast tarmac / gravel rallies or any combination of these)?

I’ve read some book that by the choose of a stiffness of an anti-roll bar, you can make a choose if the car is more under steered or over steered."

Hi OldF,

I hope I understand your question correctly. By the time I got to drive the '04 car there was obviously all the set-ups already determined by Markko and Francois which were in my opinion the best you could have for that car given what they had to work with. To my knowledge we did not modify the ARB's (anti roll bars) during the rallies for slow/fast conditions unless it rained, then we changed the whole setup. The thing the team played around the most with was damper specs and settings. I believe there was a different damper spec for every event or almost.

ARB's, on the other hand were generally always the same for given surfaces.  Sometimes a driver would go one step up or down on front or rear to tweak the car balance. Springs were the same philosophy, generally always the same for a given surface...maybe 2 or 3N up or down for tweaking. Cyprus had the same springs as Finland or sweden...!

Diff maps were the other thing everybody played around with ALL the time.

"I’ve read some book that by the choose of a stiffness of an anti-roll bar, you can make a choose if the car is more under steered or over steered."

Sure, for example I often ran very soft ARB's on the car to improve the grip on the rear. The reason for this is I always liked to drive a car "from the rear" if you know what I mean...? The rear ARB's was so thin on my car that it broke on occasions.  The difference is very subtle, and in my experience it's especially the case on tarmac. I had a case in Catalunya, on a long stage that we ran for the second time, where I could not find a good flow and rythm...something was off and the time was slow. I was confused and thinking really hard what was wrong on the road section...the car felt ok! Then when I rotated the tires I noticed the rear ARB link was hanging down, broken. In my experience the ARB is extremely important for the car balance but the changes it makes are very subtle to feel. It's not like if you change springs...

In my opinion this car was what the french call "une auto pointue" which in my definition book meant that the car was hard to set-up efficiently, because it was difficult to feel the subtle but important differences. Sometimes the only way to know was to look at the clock but please don't get me wrong, the team knew how to setup the car in the best ways. I was extremely happy with my suspension setups.

I hope this answers your question.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

RSI: Water injection

Did you know that the Ford Focus WRC cars I drove had a water tank sitting behind the seat? It was filled with distilled water. Do you know what it was for? Two purposes really. A few seconds before the stage start, I switched a button on, called: STAGE. This button turned all the funky stuff on. It turned the "valves" on (diffs), the ALS on (anti lag system), the stage engine map on with max power and hence water injection. 

If you have ever heard of water injection then you will know that when the engine map is switched into stage mode, water gets sprayed in a very fine cloud, in the air/fuel mixture.


After air passes the turbocharger, it obviously gets compressed but subsequently also heated up quite a bit. 


In turbocharged engines the air and fuel mixture that enters the cylinders can sometimes explode before the spark plug ignites, usually because of extreme temperatures. It can also be due to too low octane fuels but we always used high quality fuel so bar that one. Too much ignition advance or too much turbo boost are obvious other reasons. This early detonation is called engine knock or pinging. I heard this phenomenon once in 1998 when one of the Toyota Team Sweden Celica Group A cars drove by me on the Swedish Rally. It sounds like a very high pitch rattle. This effect is extremely destructive to the engine. To avoid pinging, water is injected along with the fuel and air in the cylinders. This provides additional air cooling and therefore denser air, adding power.


The inter-cooler is there to cool the air down before it reaches the inlet manifold and if I remember correctly the injection happens directly at the entry of the inter-cooler. I may be off on this so if anyone has the knowledge please comment!

In any case water injection is a system which has been used in engines for a long time and as early as for military aircraft prior to WWII.

Back to our WRC Focus, water was also used to cool the inter-cooler radiator . There were a number of sprays which dumped water onto the outside of the radiator when the cooling fluid temperature was exceedingly high.

© 2012 Ford Motor Company

Friday, March 2, 2012

February 24th's TRIVIA answer

As I said, "google is not your friend on this one, or it's too easy."
Now, google is your friend and here is the answer:
Toyota Team Europe (TTE) used the superstrut on the Celica. It improved turn-in. It was later abandoned because of reliability issues. A friend of mine, who's an ex TTE mechanic, said that there were too many bearings in the system. Dust would get into those bearings too easily and damage them.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Springs & co.

The spring is one of the most important parts of the suspension. You might say:"well no sh*#, Antony..." Anyway, here are some details which some of you may find interesting: 

If you put a linear spring in a pressing machine. Every other single mm of compression will require an extra equal x amount of force, which is normally measured in Newtons (N). Kilogram force (Kgf) or pound force (lbf) units are also valid to measure the spring rates. Many will speak in Kgf, because it gives people more sense of what they are talking about. Remember however that 1 Kgf is approximately 9,81N. The EIBACH springs, which I have knowledge about, are measured and marked in Newtons (N).

Back in the early 2000's I had a Toyota Corolla WRC and we had EIBACH linear springs for it. On a competition EIBACH spring you can see a number code as, for example: 300-75-0055. Where 300 is the length in mm, 75 the inner diameter in mm and 55 the rate in N/mm. I measured them in our press, just for my own information. Those springs took, for the 55 example, 55 N to compress the first mm. Compressing it 1 more mm required another 55N, therefore 110N for the first 2 mm of spring compression. I noticed that almost all the springs I measured never really gave the same readings. They often varied by 1 to 3N or so. Either my press was inaccurate, or they must be very hard to manufacture identically. My guess tells me springs are hard to make identical. EIBACH does state that there is an allowed 2% tolerance which may go either way on the spring rate, which at worst might come to 4% spring rate difference between a right corner and a left corner on your car. It may be worth checking your springs before you mount them! Maybe somebody could share their experience with me?

In the mid to late 90's, the works Toyotas were running very hard springs, in the range of 50-80N/mm on the front for gravel and as much as 90-100N/mm on tarmac, if I remember correctly. Things changed drastically with the involvement of top Nordic drivers and Toyota Team Sweden (TTS) who went, together with some evolutions of the Öhlins dampers, way down to values around 45N/mm on the front. In those days, this was a revolution. I remember a particular time when, back in and around 1998, we had picked up a Toyota Celica st205 GrA from TTS and took it down to Portugal, in the Fafe Lameirinha and Cabeiciras de Basto area (Northern Portugal) to test it on smooth gravel. This Celica was on the superstrut suspension (anyone heard of this one?) as opposed to Mc Pherson. I thought the car was fantastic so we called the TTS boss and he said something like:"hey, wait your car is accidentally on snow springs, that it is not right..." I thought the car was awesome on softer snow springs (55N/mm on front). The superstrut also helped.

Celica st205 GrA ready for rally

"Superstrut" on Celica st205 GrA
Corolla WRC upright McPherson

Linear springs were used on the Fords I drove as well, except the rates were much lower than on the Corolla and Celica. By the time I had joined Ford they were using 30N/mm on the front generally, for gravel, and around 50N/mm for tarmac (not so sure anymore on the tarmac rates, although I do remember we had a rain setup where the rates went down by 5N/mm all around). On gravel the standard setting was 30N/mm front and 25N/mm rear. I asked for a 30/21 ratio for my car. This gave my car a bit more grip on the rear and hence a bit more understeer, which suited my driving style better. I once tried a 30/27.5 ratio during Acropolis shakedown. It was slow and rubbish for me, way too much oversteer. All this to say that springs are super important for car balance and sometimes you don't know if you have the right setup until you tried them all and compare on the clock. In my case, I was significantly faster with the 30/21 balance even though the 30/25 felt better.

Back to MAZDA, who's initiative (in and around 1987-1992) was to use progressive springs rather than linear. Basically the spring rates had ramps that went from softer to harder, as compression increased. I remember my father saying that they were extremely hard to figure out. He spoke of his engineers making regular custom orders to EIBACH for various rates and ramps to test on the car. I also remember that some of those desired ramps were not achievable due to material constraints. I believe this has probably evolved now (I will make a future post, discussing the basics of metal properties and how this was a major subject in the early 90's for MAZDA). Luckily we had some very good engineers and drivers for this sort of setup work. Timo Salonen and Hannu Mikkola had appropriate feeling for the suspension adjustments and how it translated to corner speed, general car balance and traction. Back in 2006 I crossed paths with an old MAZDA engineer who had moved on to MITSUBISHI during the Tommi Mäkinen years and then on to the Dakar team. I asked if he had taken the progressive spring knowledge over there and he said: "Waddaya think?"

Neverthless the combination of KAYABA dampers and progressive springs allowed the MAZDA to have better traction than the competition in the late 80's and early 90's. KAYABA's gas-cooled damper meant that the damper did not overheat and lose its effectiveness as easily as before (when dampers overheat, they basically become air pumps until eventually they seize altogether, then you're screwed). Thus the damper controlled the spring travel with effectiveness. Traction was the key to the car's success and it was attained thanks to the softness on the first few centimeters of spring travel which then became as hard as necessary for rough terrain. It showed especially on slippery surfaces where Timo, Hannu and Ingvar's skills together with the MAZDA's traction had the edge over the competition's raw, less-controlled power. Unfortunately, as soon as there was good grip, the horsepower disadvantage was a real problem.

An interesting note I'd like to point out is that back in the late 80's and early 90's the popular concept was to let the spring do the work. The damper was merely there to keep it under control, discreetly, if you see what I mean. The philosophy later changed completely. The shock absorber became king. Thanks to advances in technology, dampers became so "bullet proof" and effective that, in a way, springs became secondary. To exagerate a bit you could say that, nowadays, they just hold the car up... here is a little anecdote to illustrate my point about the suspension revolution:

My father often test drove the MAZDA after Timo and Hannu. They would determine a setup and if they had doubts they'd ask him to drive and give his opinion. Although he wasn't competing anymore at that time, he had a pretty good idea of what the car could do. 12 years later he rode with me as I tested the Ford. His reaction to how the Ford "swallowed" bumps and stones was interesting. Driving the MAZDA, you often had to "navigate" around hazards whereas for FORD the motto was "just go".  

On some modern rally car uprights, you will notice a second smaller spring accompanying the main one. This is usually a "helper spring". Below is a clear pic of the helper:
Spring with helper on top
You can see a hint of one (in red), sitting above the yellow spring in the following pic:

EIBACH linear spring on Celica st205 grA

On the following pic you can see a small white spring under the main one. I believe it is a helper as well.   
White helper spring on MINI upright
The helper is used to keep the main one always aligned perfectly and tense during lift off. It has an insignificant spring rate and will be at full coil-bind on normal driving position, therefore it has no effect in terms of car suspension.

There also exists "tender" springs:

Spring with tender on top
Tenders have a significant spring rate and are not at full coil-bind on normal driving position. I know the tenders exist in linear or progressive specification. They have an effect, at least on the start of suspension movement until they reach full coil-bind, at which point the main spring works on its own. Their use, in a 2 spring system, significantly complicates matters. I am unaware if they are used on top rally cars. Maybe someone could fill us in on this.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

New video page

There is a video page from now on. Here is an example of what you can find there :

If anyone would like to make some media contributions to the site you are very welcome.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

To cheat or not to cheat

Here is a question from someone on

"And now a question directly to Antony

What can you tell about manufacturer teams' offences against technical rules? What changes (could) cars had between pre- and post-event scrutineering? What about unauthorized repairs on road sections, changing weight ballasts between the scales? Could a team be sure that officials wont check certain parts of the car? and so on...."

Most of the stories I have heard date way back to the early 1990’s. At the time I was a kid and my dad was running MAZDA RALLY TEAM EUROPE (MRTE). Sometimes he told about stuff that they had seen themselves or heard from 3rd parties. What I am trying to say is I don't know how true or accurate they are. So don’t come and tell me I’m wrong!

On a side note, just to illustrate how unwanted news can easily spread, here is an example where MAZDA was the victim:
MRTE was wondering how, at one point, the press was  coming out with confidential information; by that I mean intricate info about car behavior, setups, reliability problems and so on. Things that the drivers of the time: Hannu Mikkola, Timo Salonen and Ingvar Carlsson couldn't and wouldn't discuss with the press. Let’s face it, the MAZDA 1.6L engine was already at a huge disadvantage compared to the others like TOYOTA, LANCIA and MITSUBISHI who were on 2L engines. The MAZDA's only advantage, which came from its "innovative" gas container damper (KAYABA) and progressive springs (compared to many others who were and still are on linear springs), was definitely not something to openly speak about. It turns out my dad figured out what was going on when he caught a nosy journalist in the act: The journalist had apparently taken the habit of hanging out just below the motor-home window, whenever open. There, the guy just listened away at the drivers and engineers who were discussing... He was caught and sent away.

Stories I heard were, for example, when a factory TOYOTA was getting refueled behind some bushes by guys wearing something apparent to radiation suits... Or a spare wheel being carried out of a Gr. A Celica by three people, cause it was in fact a heavy tank full of gas (I mean gas, not petrol)…Or a MITSUBISHI being replaced in the rally by another brand new MITSUBISHI on which doors and bonnet, from the original MITSU, were bolted. The car made a few donuts on the gravel, so as to look dirty, and on it went... I remember hearing of the FIA technical commission boss of the time, sitting next to my father, on a stage start line watching the Gr.A Celica roar away like an airplane and saying:"Achim, I know something is wrong with this car, but what?" You see, the problem was that people knew they were cheating, but you had to know where and when to look. It was later that I heard they submerged the infamous turbo charger in water and saw air bubbles coming out of places where it shouldn't have. Apparently that turbo was the cleverest cheat the FIA tech guy had ever seen.

Fortunately today it is much harder to cheat. I do not believe official teams are or have been cheating lately, at least not willingly. I could tell you, for example, that I once used an illegal amount of tread patterns in a gravel event. It was a simple accident, really. We were allowed to nominate two different tread patterns. I accidently used three, until we realized. Oops! It's just too risky to cheat willingly and be caught. I remember of one instance, where there was an alert because a works car had lost some plastic parts on a stage, which in turn caused the car to be, let’s say, light. It was an issue. I can tell you also that back in 2002 when I did the ERC (European Rally Championship) there was some proper cheating going on. Illegal cars, illegal fuel, illegal recce, illegal servicing. We saw and heard it all.

I'll make a post about linear and progressive springs soon. I believe it's an interesting subject.

Testing before ELPA Rally 2002

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

RSI: Ivan

Some photos from a Canadian friend who was the chief scrutineer back when we did the Charlevoix rally in 2002 (Quebec). Thanks Ivan!
We were not well prepared for this event. It ended prematurely because we did not have the correct tires for the conditions (gravel with fresh snow and ice on top, no spikes allowed)! I retired on a double puncture but that was beside the point. I will go more into this adventure on a later post. Our experience in Charlevoix could be useful for some, so as not to make the same costly mistake.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

The resolutions

With every New Year come new resolutions, mine come in pair this time. First I wish to thank people who helped me out in the past. Second: I am soon starting a new job! Yay! Handling it is another question. Be sure I will be back on here to brag about it, on a later day, if I manage with it.  
For the time being I would like to blog differently, take a parallel path from what you have been used to. I have been busy both with work and with my MINI project up until now; you know that, don’t you? Finding sponsors is extremely difficult; you know that as well, right? Although for some people it just seems to fall out of the sky. Seriously, for me it’s like banging the head against the wall! Let’s put that aside for a while.
I have a friend who has helped me on various occasions, out of simple kindness. I really appreciate that and feel we are on a same wavelength. As a result I would like to return the favor by writing and posting a bit about him, his company and what his projects are.
Rob Atkinson runs a company called RAMSPORT. I am sure you can remember that name as they ran WRC cars for a number of years at the highest level of rally sport. Fortunately all this know-how is not going to waste and Rob has now been involved in building and restoring historic rally cars as well.
Among the cars they work on is a MK1 Ford Escort, it is FIA historic spec with a mechanical injection BDA engine, quite a rare engine and it worked really well winning on both of its outings. They are currently working on a 1970 Porsche 914/6 GT, it is being rebuilt form a bare shell upward and will finish as a very rare FIA http Rally version of the GT. We will get some more photos on the blog as the build process evolves. In the meantime, check these out:
The Porsche as received from America:

After it was dipped and treated:

After having the cage and arches fitted:

The MK1 Escort:

The engine looks neat: I would love to get close-ups!


The tank: