Tales from Argentina and their Maxi Rally Cars
- 6th December 2011, 9:28am
The first full season of rallying in Argentina under the new Maxi Rally regulations is coming to a close. So how has it worked out?
Last year I wrote a couple of features on this new type of class, conceived and developed by Barattero Motorsport Group and how the Argentines had decided to steer away from the current FIA Group N model. These regulations had previously been adopted for years, much like in Australia.
So to recap, what is Maxi Rally? In a word, this is a “silhouette ” class. Every car, whether it’s a VW, Kia, Chevy, Ford, Peugeot or Fiat has a highly developed Honda K24 4-cyclinder engine which can be bought directly from OS Berta, a local tuning house.
They all use a Subaru 6-speed transmission with a sequential gear kit installed, along with an R180 rear differential.
The suspension geometry and cross members are the same between each car, so effectively you can buy a “kit” from someone like Barattero, pick a body shell, then slice and dice the chosen car to accept all the parts. About the only thing that varies between them, other than appearance, is the wheel-base.
The end result is that there are now eight manufactures (including Subaru and Mitsubishi) racing in the championship, with all of the newcomers being competitive right out of the box, for next-to-no investment.
These cars are very evenly matched and the older Group N Subarus and Mitsubishis are still competitive as well.
For me, one of the most important things is that they all look amazing. Each model has huge wheel arches, boot spoilers and big wide air intakes at the front. They look very similar to S2000 and WRC cars, but are much more cost effective. Out on the stages they look great, sound great and are loved by the punters.
The usual suspects are still at the front, Federico Villagra wrapped up his 10th title at the rally, but everyone is happier to see “Coyote” Gabriel Pozzo and all their other favourite drivers driving and sliding much harder, louder and aggressively than before.
As Pozzo said to me, “These cars are real race cars, very aggressive….”, so the drivers love them as well.
From a more pessimistic view point, whilst the cars all look very different they all sound the same, but to be honest it is such an amazing sound, who cares? They sound like real old school rally cars, that engine note on the wind fills you with excitement before they burst on the scene and can be heard sometimes until the next car arrives! That is something I think all us rally tragics crave!
Whilst I’m very keen to see what Group G2 is going to produce for Australian rallying, I can’t help but wonder if this would have been a better way to go, as it seems like a seamless change. All the small private teams are still running their older EVOs and WRXs as before, and those young hungry drivers out to prove a point are still able to in these older cars.
For a national championship like this, I think Maxi Rally is a great idea. I suppose it's competitor driven in that if you want to build a car from a certain manufacturer without their help you can. Then who knows, you might just get them to become interested in rallying and throw some support your way without them having to develop special “go-fast” parts.
This is effectively the whole ethos behind this idea, and with six new makes jumping straight in and more on the cards, it’s worked.
Once again I’d like to extend a big “muchas gracias” to Barattero Motorsport Group for having me at the rally. For more information on any of their products visit www.barattero.com.ar
For more information on the Argentinean Rally Championship visit www.rallyargentino.org.ar
1: Team Baratec are running factory cars for both VW and Kia.
2: Federico Villagra’s VRS team runs 3 Ford Fiesta Maxi Rallys.
3: Baratec driver Miguel Baldoni, who actually competed against Brendan Reeves in this year’s WRC academy, was leading until a Day 2 roll over.
4: Under the bonnet of the rally winning Kia Rio.
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