It’s fair to say throughout the years we have witnessed some astonishingly talented rally drivers. Walter Rohrl, Tommi Makinen, and Colin McRae are just some of the big names which created World Rally Championship history throughout their coveted careers. As we looked on from the comfort of our living rooms at these men negotiating the apex of corners on two wheels, we all thought about quitting our day jobs and committing our livelihoods to rally driving.
Some events throughout the world however don’t require a heavy team sponsorship or even a rally license. All you need to do is make a number of modifications to your car and build up a bit of self-confidence.
Lets have a run through of the before mentioned modifications that are necessary to make to your car…
First of all, Safety
It’s somewhat inevitable not to crash travelling at such dangerously competitive speeds. 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.
The entire car must be stripped right back to the bare shell of the body in order to install a roll-cage. 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.
There’s no power without a Drivetrain
In order for the drivetrain to produce the amount of power needed to compete in an off-road rally, a significant amount of alterations is needed since this is the component of the car that transmits power between the engine and the wheels. 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.
So, the question is, how does all of this work? To summarise, the replacement chip removes the restriction that has been added. 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.
The importance of the correct Tyres
Due to the harsh conditions of the rally circuit, standard road tyres would be lucky to survive the first corner. Between 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.
Don’t forget Aluminium skidpans
Have you ever ended up grounding your car after misjudging a bump in the road? 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.
Throughout this article, with the help of Ring automotive, who stock a range of car tyre inflators, we have explored the numerous alterations you need to make to your trusty automobile before going full scale Smokey and the Bandit with it.
So, touch up on some of these handy tips before considering a career as a rally driver to help steer your way to success.
Jonny Gilpin is a copywriter for digital marketing agency, Mediaworks. Originally from Northern Ireland, but now based in Newcastle, he specialises in current affairs, lifestyle, and sport.