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Australia will become the first country in the world to conduct a national rally series for Sport Utility Vehicles with the announcement of the rules for the new class, which will come into affect at the start of 2012.

The new class will be open to all vehicles specified as Sport Utility Vehicles (SUV) by industry statisticians VFACTS/RVCS, either in two wheel drive or four wheel drive form and be no more than 10 years old (plus model run ons).

The new SUV Australian Rally Series will welcome turbo diesel or normally aspirated petrol vehicles and according to CEO of the ARC Scott Pedder will give the fastest growing sector of the Australian vehicle market access to motor sport competition that is relevant and is the perfect showcase for cars of this type.

"SUVs are perfectly suited to the sport of rallying, they are built for rugged conditions but are often not full off roaders, they are marketed as vehicles that crossover from normal road conditions to dirt tracks and most importantly there is currently no other form of motor sport that provides an arena for SUVs to compete in," said Scott Pedder.

“The new SUV category will enable more manufacturers to become involved in rallying utilising vehicles that are quickly becoming the most popular sector in the Australian car market," he said.

"The rules which have been formulated for the new SUV rally championship will keep the cars close to standard with only minor wheel, tyre, brake, suspension and exhaust modifications allowed along with the mandatory safety equipment.

"This means that the SUV rally championship will be a relatively economical way for manufacturers to become involved in rallying and to showcase their product in the heat of competition," he added.

The rules for the SUV rally category will allow the original ECU for the turbo diesel or normally aspirated petrol engines to be re-flashed while the exhaust system has to remain standard from the engine to the catalytic converter but after that is free.

The minimum weight for a rally SUV will be as per the manufacturers specifications for that exact model plus 23 kg which is arrived at by subtracting 20 kg for the removal of the car's air conditioning system and the addition of 43 kg for the fitment of mandatory safety equipment.

The car's gearbox must remain standard and can only be in the form available for sale in Australia, in other words if the SUV is sold only in automatic form it cannot be fitted with a manual transmission even if a manual version is available overseas. The rules do allow for an additional external transmission-cooling device to be fitted if desired. 

The standard differential must be retained however a mechanical limited slip maybe fitted to two wheel drive SUVs while the drive shafts are free to ensure cost effective durability.

Brakes will be free save for some size limitations while a hydraulic handbrake can be fitted along with a simple brake bias adjuster and the ABS can be de-activated.

Shock absorbers springs and bushes in the suspension are also free while the standard pick up and mounting points must be retained in the vehicle's suspension system.

Safety is always a major priority and the SUVs will require all of the current mandatory safety equipment to the current FIA Standards

"The rules are simple, straight forward, cost effective and will deliver a fantastic new market relevant motor sport arena for privateers and manufacturers alike," said Scott Pedder


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