Over the years we have seen some incredibly skilful and talented world rally driver. Household names Colin McRae, Sébastien Loeb and Carlos Sainz are just a few of the famous drivers who have shaped the history of the World Rally Championship thanks to their immense success. As we watched on from behind our television screens at these men negotiating the apex of corners on just a couple of wheels at times, we all dreamed of our day jobs and committing giving our lives to rallying.
However, there are several events across the globe where neither a heavily sponsored team, or even a rally license are needed. All that’s required are a few of modifications to your car and some self-confidence!
In this article, we explore the numerous alterations that you’ll need to make to your trusty motor before going at it on the dirt!
First things first, none of us want an accident. But when we’re doing dangerously competitive speeds, crashing is somewhat inevitable. Therefore, taking numerous measurements to safe proof the car you are going to be driving is one of the most important processes. The installation of a roll cage not only reduces the risk the driver and co-driver are at, but it also strengthens the car as a whole. Understandably, cars are built for use on roads and designed in a way to match a particular style of moderate driving. When you take your car rallying however, you are placing it under significant stress. A properly installed roll-cage carries as much worth as a building’s foundations.
In order to install a roll-cage however, the entire car must be stripped, right back to the bare shell of the body. All the body sound proofing material off the floor must be pulled out, before welding any seam in the vehicle. Once this had been done, the roll-cage is good to be installed.
The right tyres
Ordinary road tyres would be lucky to survive the first corner of a rally circuit. Due to the copious number of pot holes, selection of sharp rocks and stones, and uncountable collisions with curbs, it is no surprise that the tyres on a rally car need to be made of sturdier stuff. In a bid to avoid continuous punctures, manufacturers of rally tyres build them all with a thick sidewall. Some even contain added ribs on the exterior of the sidewall. They will all contain larger, thicker tread blocks, offering more grip during acceleration, braking, and cornering. Depending on the road surface, the temperature, and the length of the stage, you will also be required to pick a particular compound of tyre, either soft, medium, or hard. In any case though, it’s always vital that your tyres are at the right pressure. Using a car tyre pump is an easy way to ensure your tyres are inflated to the optimum pressure so that safety and performance are maximised.
Now you’ve got your tyres sorted, but have you ever misjudged a bump in the road and ended up grounding your car? This is something which every driver is more than likely to experience in their life, whether it was scraping the sump off the ground after gaining unintentional air or going over too steep a speed bump. Imagine when you’re in a rally car however, constantly hitting jumps — the sump of the car along with the engine casing would be destroyed within a matter of moments, causing catastrophic damage. That is why you must fit an aluminium plate, which protects the underneath of the car.
Don’t forget the drivetrain
The drivetrain is the component of the car which delivers power between the engine and the wheels. However, it will require significant alterations if it’s going to produce the necessary power capable of competing in an off-road rally. Most modern cars are controlled by an internal computer or membrane, which receives instruction from a chip. As standard roadworthy vehicles are configured to be fuel efficient and produce minimal emissions, much of the potential performance is restricted. With a performance chip, or tuner as it is alternatively known, vehicles can create an additional output of 100 horsepower in some instances.
Importantly though, how exactly does a drivetrain work? Effectively, the replacement chip removes the restriction that has been implanted. In doing so, the instruction which tells the engine how much fuel should be released when the driver places his foot flat down on the accelerator no longer exists. With this comes maximum acceleration and similarly maximum throttle response, yet at the cost of fuel economy. You should also consider changing your intake manifold to one that produces low end torque. You could also replace the exhaust manifold with a header, which will enhance horsepower and the throttle response.
So if you’re thinking of going down the rally driving route, these handy tips should help steer you to success!