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wrc in the rain
spent the last 4 days following the wrc circus through the northern
roads of new zealand, while attempting to take photographs and video.
the things attempting to prevent this were monsoonal conditions on the
1st 2 days, preventing good photography and easy access (sounds like the
rac), and the usual drama of trying to get to as many locations in as
short a period of time as possible. to cap it all off, the rally
finished in glorious summer conditions where dust became a problem.
welcome to the nz winter folks....
1) watching the amazing grip of the toyotas, particularly in the wet.
this is the 1st time i've seen the new tte
(we're-no-longer-cheating-honest) cars and they are very good. small
and nimble, but much smoother than the subaru's. the subaru jocks have
to be a lot more pronounced with their cars to get them to perform
(which they did very well over the week-end). overall sainz took the
win over auriol with the suspicion of team orders in the final few
stages (the time sheets make interesting reading).
2) on the dry final day, the ability of the awd cars to put rubber down
(literally) onto the gravel is amazing. each year, they get better and
better at this.
3) the seats (f2) were very fast and noisy, and looked very good. the
professionalism of this outfit looks good for vw's 1st wrc car next
year. in contrast the f2 golf looked less good and rolled on the final
4) watching juha k's lines in the ford. that car has the most amazing
anti-lag system, judging by the noise it makes. juha did enough on the
stages that i saw him in to still be right up there for me. the lines
he took on the bridge stage were inch perfect when we looked at the
5) the chance to talk to colin mccrae at the service at the end of the
1st leg. nice guy, and pretty relaxed (especially seeing as how he'd
just broken a dumb-ass photographer's leg). interesting talking to him
about his technique in the subaru (see above).
6) standing 1/2 way across a railway bridge on a little ledge built to
allow an escape route in the event of a train arriving unexpectidly,
being very careful as i was 50' over a gorge with 1 handrail, looking
down onto a little bridge with a nice large puddle of standing water
which the 1st cars at least, would drive through (spectacularly i
hoped). anyway, it was very slippery on the ledge and there was little
room, and i had an hour to kill. i look up and there was a railway
truck on the lines coming down towards me! he saw me of course, and we
had a nice chat while we waiting for the 1st cars. told him what a
rally was, and helped him thinking up ever more inventive excuses for
his boss who was wondering where the truck/jigger had disappeared to!
7) the sheer pleasure of discovering little-used winding gravel roads in
the midst of stunningly beautiful farmland, when your colleagues are
pushing pencils in offices. found a little beach down the whaanga coast
(south of raglan) which i'll be going back to. it certainly isn't on
the map (literally).
8) the pleasure of discovering that the nikon is as waterproof as the
old one while watching the canon jocks doing what i used to have to do
with my canon with plastic bags....
9) the usual camaraderie of photographers. "oi you, move, you're in my
1) during the course of the event, which was very well supported, i saw
2 audi's (a4s). there were literally dozens of subaru's - mostly lagacy
turbos with a smattering of wrx's. subaru have really tapped this
market, escpecially as i saw only 2-3 mitsi's evo 3's and 4's and a
single celica gt4. given that the wrx and the evo are about the same
price, mitsi need to look at better marketing.
2) driving our car was interesting. it was my 1st time driving a subaru
rs twin turbo. good for about 208kw apparently, although didn't really
feel like it. the twin turbos were not particularly well installed and,
although the low-down boost was good (better than the rs2, but not as
good as the 20v), there was a definite lag in the middle which makes for
a pretty different driving technique. at 4,000 in 5th there is less
'go' than there is a 2,800, or 5,500! the engine will rev to 7,000 like
the rr, but has more go at the top end that car, although nowhere near
the rs2. it would be interesting to put all 3 cars on the dyno.
the gearbox is delightful with a snappy short throw and less of the
inertia which mars the audi change in my cars. offset against this was
a high degree of whine in the lower gears. handling was under-steery,
particularly wrt my audi's. reminded my of the wr actually. pushing
hard (chasing a imprezza), and the car is hard work, without a lot of
chassis feedback and some rear-end nervousness. accentuated in the wet.
this was the car which my friend pitted against my ur-quattro a few
week-ends ago over a twisty hill road. my respect for his driving
abilities deepens i must say... the steering feel flatters to deceive.
initial impressions are very good, certainly better than the rs2, but
you quickly tire of the heaviness of the controls, and their coarseness,
where the audi, while detaching you from the action, definitely leaves
you more in touch with the chassis. the chassis wanders at speed which
is also slightly disconcerting until you get used to it. as a chassis,
it is nowhere close to the rr imo. build quality is good, although my
usual checking of things such as door hinges reveals pretty light-weight
having said the above, overall i though the car offered good value for
money, good performance and safety. would i buy one? not to replace
either of my wagons i wouldn't...