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It’s been a roller coaster season so far for Mick Patton, the VW driver debuting a new engine at the start of the year and dealing with the ongoing development issues that come with breaking new ground.
 

After a consistent performance at the recent International Rally of Queensland the Canberran driver says he’s now ready to start focusing on other areas of the car in the search for increased speed.
 
“Since the end of last year it’s been 100% focus on getting the engine working right,” said Patton. “And I think that we’ve got the new engine to a point where we’re pretty comfortable with how it’s performing.”
 
Patton suffered a major set back at the second Round of the season in Western Australia when his engine caught on fire on the very second stage, ending his weekend prematurely.
 
“The fire in WA really put us behind where we wanted to be, to loose an entire weekend was so frustrating. So we went to Queensland really to pick up where we left off, and despite an exhaust issue on the Saturday, we finished the event really happy and ready to look at finding speed in other areas of the car.”
 
One key area Patton’s Repco Rally Team has identified is the Polo’s gearbox. While it is the same six-speed sequential gearbox the car was fitted with last season, Patton explained that the change from the two-litre, normally aspirated engine to this year’s turbo-charged engine has significantly affected the gear ratios.
 
“We always knew that was something we needed to change, but in order of priorities we always knew that there were other areas of the car that needed to be worked on first,” he said.
 
At the ARMOR ALL Power Stage in Queensland, which featured an incredibly long straight, the TV crew reported that Scott Pedder clocked the top speed at approximately 185km/h. In comparison Patton said the fastest speed they reached all weekend was 162km/h.
 
“We knew we had some work to do on our gear ratios,” Mick said. “Unfortunately with what we currently have we’re limited to a top speed of about 160 kilometres an hour.”
 
“It’s all about the power and the torque of the turbo engine compared to the old engine last year. I reckon last year we had good top speed, but now that the engine is producing power in different places effectively we’ve lost 1st gear, in fact we start most stages now in 2nd gear!”
 
Heading to the next Round in South Australia, an event renowned for its super fast shire roads, Patton is determined to overcome the gearbox hurdle to unleash some top end speed from his VW.
 
“We’ve been talking to the boys at Neal Bates Automotive, and they are helping us work out the internals of the gearbox and what ratios we will put into it which will help us get that top end speed.”
 
“The aim will be to have that sorted by the time we get to those fast roads in South Australia but it will all depend on just how quickly parts can be sourced out of Sadev in France. But that’s definitely the plan!”

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