Super 2000 – Rallying’s Saviour?
- 9th March 2007, 11:44am
Is it a BDA Escort, a 2.4 litre Datto, or a Fiat 131 Abarth at full noise? No, this is the year 2007 and that screaming engine is from the new rallying sensation – the Super 2000 Toyota, or Fiat, or Peugeot, or Volkswagen, or Skoda, or …….
Welcome to the modern era, and a category of rally car that many are calling the saviour of the sport as we know it. It may still be four-wheel drive, but the key is that the car is normally aspirated, and it’s that turbo-less engine that is causing all the excitement.
While the World Rally Championship has always been at the forefront of action and excitement, the less spectacular (and less noisy) Group N cars have always struggled to raise the blood pressure of spectators, particularly at club, state and national championship levels.
“The sport started its downward spiral on the 1980 Algarve Rally, when Hannu Mikkola debuted the turbo, four-wheel drive Audi Quattro,” one long-time RallySport Magazine reader mused this week.
While the four-wheel drive transmission system has proven to be of huge benefits to the motoring industry, and to everyday road cars, the turbocharger has never really caught on as many thought it would.
Not only has the turbocharger increased the power of rally cars by a considerable amount, it has had the adverse affect of making them a lot quieter as well. And it’s this aspect that die-hard fans never really came to terms with.
It remains a highly debatable point whether they were “the good old days” or not, but the fact remains that when rally fans talk about “the good old days” they are referring to the times when normally aspirated, rear-wheel drive cars like the Escort, the Stratos, the Fiat 131 and the Stanza ruled the roost.
But it’s no good living in the past for ever, so enter Super 2000, and the way forward.
Interest in the category is growing at an amazingly fast rate, and in the most part it’s because of the internet. Websites are now full of footage of Super 2000 cars being tested, and it’s the sound that they make that’s creating the excitement.
“That shot of Batesy’s new Corolla, on the right hander just before it comes out of the pines and into view,” one RallySport Mag reader excitedly told us. “If you didn’t know better, you’d swear it was a BDA Escort.”
And he’s right too!
So far, in initial testing, Toyota driver Neal Bates reports that the car is about on a par with the team’s 2006 Group N (P) Corolla, but regardless of the speed, the team are buzzing about the new machine.
“It is sensational to ride in,” multiple Australian Championship-winning co-driver Coral Taylor says. “The noise it makes is incredible – it’s got the whole team bouncing around like new parents.”
Taylor adds that she doesn’t know if the car is more sideways to ride in than last year’s car, but many are tipping that’s not really going to matter. If they sound that good, the fans are going to love them.
“One of the most important tests we are still to do is to see how well our intercom systems work in the car,” Taylor laughs. “But I’m sure that’s something (the extra noise) that we’re happy to put up with.”
It’s now just three weeks until the new Super 2000 Toyota Corolla makes its competition debut at the first round of the Australian Rally Championship in Queensland, and those who’ll be lucky enough to be there are already counting down the days.
Will Super 2000 be the saviour of rallying around the world? Only time will tell of course, but RallySport Magazine thinks it could be the shot in the arm the sport has been looking for.
Bring it on!
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