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Putting in the hours after work, at weekends and through the New Zealand COVID-19 lockdown has Jordan Grant’s upgraded Suzuki Swift ready for debut when North Island rallying resumes.
The goal for the 20-year-old apprentice mechanic from Tauranga had been a Category 2 campaign in the (now cancelled) 2020 New Zealand Rally Championship chasing 2WD, Rookie and Junior title success.
Without the budget to purchase a rally-ready solution such as a Ford Fiesta R2, Grant set out to build a Suzuki Swift from a damaged road car with 210,000km on the clock.
After three rally outings at Coromandel, Far North and Waitomo last year, Grant has completed significant modifications to the Swift.
"We rallied the car last year with a near-standard 1600cc engine and standard gearbox and won our class [finishing 14th overall] at the Far North Rally,’’ Grant said.
"The objective has been to build a car that’s capable of competing with the ST and R2 model Ford Fiestas.
"I couldn’t afford the outlay for an R2, but I can do most of the engineering work myself.’’
The upgrade process for the Swift includes a 1.8-litre Suzuki Aerio engine and a five-speed sequential ZF gearbox.
The M18A engine has competition camshafts, solid lifters, porting work, high compression pistons and a cradle to reinforce the main bearings. A custom designed and CNC-machined bell-housing mates the engine to the ZF gearbox.
"More power will make it more forgiving to drive, but the biggest advantage should be the gearbox. The ratios and the shifting will be so much better than the standard gearbox,’’ Grant said.
"The car was ready four days before lockdown and we would have been at Otago, but still with the standard gearbox.
"Now I’m just keen to start rallying and developing it. The Hoddle Road Rallysprint is our aim and after that all of the North Island rallies for the rest of this year.’’
Grant has progressed into rallying after two years of karting and a strong background in Car Club sprints and hillclimbs, including 2017 and 2018 Junior category wins in the Motorsport New Zealand ClubSport Championship.
The Junior success saw him represent New Zealand at the Asia-Pacific Gymkhana Championship.
"Our budget is limited but I’m prepared to work my butt off to get everything done and chase my rallying dream,’’ he said.
"I have done most of the labour-intensive jobs myself and I’ve been fortunate to have expert help and advice on the more technical tasks.
"In the process I’ve learnt a lot of things that have helped me in my job, as well as for rallying.’’
The late-season 2020 outings will develop the Swift for Grant’s 2021 New Zealand Rally Championship Category 2 campaign.
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