In part 1 of this three part feature, former Subaru RS Challenge competitor, Nathan Davis, takes a look at some rallying “down under” in South America.
 

I think that it is safe to assume that the majority of us in Australia don’t know too much about motorsport in South America. Stop and think about it though, and names like Fangio, Senna, Fittipaldi, Piquet, Reutemann, Barrichello, Massa, and Montoya, just to name a few, have emerged from there to have great success in Formula 1.

So on the face of it, it seems that South Americans are as good at driving as they are at futból (or soccer to us Aussies), which would suggest that their respective local racing scenes must be pretty good.


So what about rallying? Seeing that the Dakar has found its new home there, coupled with Argentina’s long running WRC event, we have been given a glimpse of what this continent has to offer.

Argentina especially has one of the vastest ever-changing landscapes of any country in the world. From Iguazú Falls in the tropical north east, to Mt Aconcagua and all of its towering 6962m in the west, and right down through Patagonia to Tierra del Fuego, or “land of fire” in the almost Antarctic south, this country pretty much has it all. Mountains, lakes, forests, deserts, rolling plains… everything that should make for great rallying.

Whilst there is an overall South American Rally Championship, Argentina is considered to have the best championship on the continent, and with 12 rounds covering a good proportion of the country, including tarmac, gravel and even snow, it has a lot to make us Aussies envious.

The drivers too are impressive, with a wealth of experience. Current series leader Gabriel Pozzo was Production World Rally Champion (PWRC) back in 2001, and he is being furiously chased down by current WRC regular, eight-times Argentinean champion Frederico Villagra.

This year there have been guest appearances from four-time PWRC champion Gustavo Trelles of neighbouring Uruguay, along with Luis-Perez Companc, who drove alongside Villagra in the Munchies Ford WRC team until 2008. PWRC and IRC competitors in the form of Miguel Baldoni and Brazilian Daniel Oliveira are also regulars, giving this championship some serious international credibility. Add to this plenty of other local talent and you’ve got one hell of a competitive series.

One thing of particular interest going on right now in Argentina is a new incentive trying to get more manufacturers and competitors involved in the championship. Sound familiar? It seems this ARC has similar problems to our ARC, in that the most popular makes of cars are either a Subaru WRX, or a Mitsubishi Evolution. Seeing that these models are virtually non-existent in everyday life there, the local manufacturers don’t really support rallying, and the costs of running the current cars privately is getting excessive.

The domestic car market is dominated by small front-wheel drive cars, and rather than banning the current Group N 4WD turbo regulars in favour of, perhaps, a 2WD championship, they have taken another route which should keep everybody happy.

This new class of car is called Maxi Rally Group N4, and will be along the lines of FIA S2000, but designed to be much cheaper, both for manufacturers to enter with, and just as importantly, for privateers to build and run.

Barattero Motorsport Group, who usually run Subarus in the championship, have been tasked by the governing body to develop this new class.

Barattero is essentially four companies in one. Baratec is their race/rally car constructor. RS&SP is a suspension and special part manufacturer that actually produces many of the official Group N homologated VO parts for Subaru. Efrom Technology is a recreational 4x4 shock absorber manufacturer, and finally, 99R Racing Pads develops and manufactures brake pads.   

They have had very strong ties with Subaru in the past, including plenty of development work on the 08’ STI Group N rally cars, and more recently they were tasked with the design and build of the 2010 Dakar Subaru Foresters.

So with plenty of experience in constructing top level rally cars they have been a natural choice to develop the new Maxi Rally platform.

The basic idea is, regardless of the make of car, the engine, gearbox and rear differential will all be the same. A naturally aspirated Honda 2.4 litre four cylinder has been selected as the engine, and produces around 280 HP in race trim. The power is then put to the ground via a, wait for it, Subaru 6MT transmission using Modena sequential internals. A Subaru R180 has then been the natural selection for the rear differential.  

Barattero have produced a fantastic initial car, which is based on a Volkswagen Gol Trend. Having a high revving naturally aspirated engine I’m sure it sounds the part, and with huge “forest” flares it certainly gets the rally pulse racing.

Under the skin the car runs the previously mentioned control parts, custom fabricated cross members and control arms, an STI “quick” steering rack, RS&SP suspension and Brembo brakes that can usually be found on standard road going STIs and EVOs.

The car won three stages on its debut rally and seems to be right on the pace of the regular Group N cars, which bodes well for future parity.  

Maybe this sort of car could be something for the Australian Rally Championship to consider?

I will be attending the upcoming Rally of San Luis as a guest of Barattero to see this new car in action first hand, so watch this space for my report on how the car performs in the flesh!

For more information on the Argentinean Rally Championship visit: http://www.rallyargentino.org.ar

For more information on Barattero Motorsport Group and its products visit:
http://www.barattero.com.ar

And for any Australian pricing and delivery enquiries on Barattero products email:
info@robisoneng.com.au

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