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GP Week : Issue 21
>> WRC INSIGHT After being ‘beefed-up’ for Turkey (pic), the Subarus revert to normal spec for Finland ... October 1, including brake cooling, but a lot of Prodrive’s thoughts are already on a 2009 evolution model. No launch date has been fixed for that model. “This will involve a little bit of everything, especially weight- reduction work and a step change in the engine. There is a new engine in the production version of the car and the World Rally Car engine will be based on that. It looks the same from the outside and dimensions like bore and stroke are unchanged, but casting details are different”. This work, however, pales into insignificance compared with planning for 2010 onwards and the new World Rally Car rules. It may suit a company like Subaru (and Mitsubishi) best to stay in top level rallying, to enter into the new World Rally Car rules with a Group N+ car. Unusually, they have an option. While Subaru are already planning to go Group N+, other manufacturers look like being forced to go the alternative S2000+ route. Certainly it looks to be much easier and less expensive to develop a 2010 World Rally Car from a car that is already homologated in four- wheel-drive form. “Technological regulations for 2010 are very nearly settled. The FIA is accepting the idea that engines should have a 35mm restrictor and a 2 bar boost limit. This looks like a good compromise, providing cars with a good level of performance, about the same level of power as current World Rally Cars, but with slightly less (but still a reasonable level of ) torque. As things stand this would give something similar to the overall level of performance of the World Rally Cars today”.” Before assumptions are made about the relative performance of 2010 World Rally Cars, there are other factors to consider. Firstly the performance available from the next generation of fuels. While E10 fuels are probably coming into force, the specification of FIA’s control fuels are progressively being constrained anyway. Compared with fuels used 10 years ago, today’s control fuels are about 30bhp less. Secondly, engine tuning is more severely limited by the new WRC 2010 regulations (heavier crankshafts, heavier pistons, lower compression ratios, rev limits, limits on valve lift, many more standard components etc), and these rules will carry through into the new rules. These changes are themselves expected to create a reduction of 10-15bhp or so compared with current World Rally Cars. When it comes to costs, it seems sure that 2010 rule engines should be more reliable because of the rev and the boost limits. Both Group N + and S2000+ cars must be converted from basic Group N or Super 2000 cars through replaceable kits. In some respects ‘the kit’ applies to both types of cars – for example the aerodynamic accessories – but the add-on turbo equipment applies only to the S2000+ cars. Still, a solution concerning suspension modifications is waiting to be found. It is intended that 2010 World Rally Cars will all have MacPherson type rear suspension but the Subaru Group N car does not, – it has a multi-link system instead. Before the rules about reversibility of specification are fixed, it must be decided if the Group N + car need to be fitted with MacPherson suspensions all round. For Subaru the question is not just whether to proceed with Group N+ or go into S2000+, but, like other manufacturers, it is whether to rush into 2010 with a new car or take advantage of the overlap rules and delay the new car till 2011. Lapworth: “Initially our thoughts are to run the evolution Impreza S14 through 2009 and 2010 and then change to the new formula car in 2011– but that is subject to acceptability of any detuning rules and possible weight limit changes imposed on old cars in 2010, and still to be announced. And if nobody is actually planning to bring out a new car in 2010, maybe everyone will wait till new designs are mandatory in 2011.” 35