New SUV category for Australian Rally Championship
- 20th June 2011, 3:59pm
The class will cater for the fastest growing sector of the Australian car market with currently one in four vehicles sold in Australia coming from the SUV sector.
The regulations for both the SUV and the outright two wheel drive category are currently before technical and management committees of the Bosch Australian Rally Championship, receiving the final fine tuning with an expected release date just prior to Rally Australia in September.
Scott Pedder says he is excited by the prospects of the new SUV class and its potential with both privateers and manufacturers.
"When we set about establishing the SUV category, as well as the two wheel drive class, foremost in our minds was market relevancy. SUV's represent the fastest growing class of car in Australia, so developing a way to incorporate their presence in rallying was obvious," said Scott Pedder.
He estimates that the SUV market segment has more than 50 eligible vehicles, with the technical working group determining that to encourage privateer and manufacturer interest the regulations should be basic enough to attract as many brands and motor/drivetrain options as possible.
"The SUVs can be two wheel drive or four, can come from any segment of the SUV market from small, to medium, large and even luxury, and their engines can be any size and capacity.
"The only limitation is that we won't allow turbo-petrol engines, it will be open to only normally-aspirated and turbo-diesel power plants. We've done this to keep the playing field as level as possible and to encourage as many manufacturers and types of vehicles as possible," he added.
Pedder continued: "I know this decision limits some manufacturers from using their signature performance SUV model variants but I hope that these manufacturers see this an opportunity to prove how great their highest selling base model vehicle is, providing a great up-sell opportunity to their performance SUV options.
"First and foremost the technical rules needed to be simple, so we've kept the cars as 'production' based as possible.
"Really the only freedoms come with suspension, brakes, exhausts, wheels and tyres and the normal high level safety equipment," Scott explained.
He says the decision to limit costs as much as possible was a key driver.
"In time we'd love to open the technical regs up to more modifications, but this is a first for rallying and as such we wanted the rules to be easy as possible to build a car to. We did this so competitors and manufacturers can get a toe in the water without a large financial outlay especially in terms of components such as dog gearboxes and fancy differentials.
"At the end of the day the primary aim of this new SUV class is to provide a manufacturer with the ability to showcase their vehicle in competition - a "showroom plus" type vehicle achieves this goal whilst still maintaining the appeal, aspiration and endurance that rallying is renowned for," says Scott.
It is expected that the SUV category vehicles will line up directly behind outright vehicles on the road.
"For competitors and spectators the SUV class represents a really exciting step forward in Australian rallying so we want them running as close to the front of the field as possible."
"We can't wait to see what amazing combinations of car and competitor we can look forward to seeing out on the stages from next year!" Pedder added.
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