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GP Week : Issue 23
>> WRC INSIGHT strong and has the advantage of being reduced in size, albeit being a little heavier and physically larger. Although the MG has a long stroke engine, the Opel has an orthodox square (86 x 86mm) unit. Development of the engine is being undertaken by Swindon Racing Engines, the company with which the MSD company has worked on various projects since the ‘80s. The base production car for FIA homologation purposes is the Opel Corsa OPC front-wheel drive model, which was itself homologated by the FIA in Group N on July 1 with a 1600cc turbocharged engine. The shape of the bonnet on the front of the car means that there is more front wheel suspension movement compared with the MG. For competition work the bodywork lends itself to adaptation with added apertures in the front of the car and Opel itself has been advising about the aerodynamic development. The rear suspension has been converted into MacPherson type in accordance with the S2000 rules. The eternal challenge in the engineering of these cars has been to achieve performance by means that are cheaper. Some areas of development need to be deliberately compromised, which in some areas, for example the shock absorber work, leads to definite limitation of performance. Other areas where compromises can become necessary concern the chassis work. To what extent should time and money be spent developing the subframe, uprights and weight saving generally? After work with the Toyota and Volkswagen cars in South Africa, Fiat created a lot of interest, being the first manufacturer in Europe to compete with S2000 and the centre of attention among other manufacturers was to see in what areas of design were compromises taken on financial grounds. When Peugeot came along, rival manufacturers noted that this was an overall better package. Another area in which MSD have gained important experience in S2000 development concerns the gear ratios. Under the FIA rules, a control transmission supplier must offer a range of 25 different alternative gear ratios, of which two are chosen by a manufacturer for the initial homologation, and another two can then be selected two years later. Experience with the MG showed that the gear ratios chosen had been a little too long. At the regulatory controlled rev limit of 8500, the MG was Loving a new challenge: MSD’s David Whitehead once developed Hyundai’s World Rally efforts, below, and is now spearheading the Opel Corsa S2000 project. given ratios giving 168kph and 180kph maximum speeds, and experience showed that even a small difference in the ratios makes a lot of difference in stage times on actual rallies in slow speed stretches of the route where the engine is running at low torque output. The original plan was for the Corsa it to appear at Rallye Deutschland as a course car, with the Corsa Super1600 driver Horst Rotter at the wheel. This was an important deadline for political purposes for the German manufacturer, but the engine has not been sufficiently tested. It is now planned that the car will be homologated in Super 2000 on 1st October 2008 if initial tests go well. Instead, shakedown testing will be carried out at the Millbrook ground in Britain, close to MSD’s base at Milton Keynes, and then it is planned to spend three or four days testing in the Saarland region after Rally Deutschland. Not yet announced are which drivers will be carrying out the test work in the car. Should the car be progressed to the S2000+ stage, various changes will have to be made, for example with down-graded crankshaft and connecting rods, but the important thing is that the engine itself is adaptable to turbocharger competition work. The chassis is also capable of handling the additional power and torque of a S2000+ engine, already being fitted with features like an enlarged fuel tank which a S2000+ will require. Whether GM is prepared to enter the commitment of World Rally Championship competition, is another question altogether ... 25